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Diocese of East Tennessee announces bishop slate

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 1:08pm

[Diocese of East Tennessee] The Standing Committee of the Diocese of East Tennessee April 28 announced a slate of five nominees who will stand for election as the fifth bishop of the Episcopal Church in East Tennessee.

The nominees are:

  • The Rev. Brian Cole – Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Lexington, Kentucky
  • The Rev. Hendree Harrison – St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Athens, Tennessee
  • The Rev. Canon Frank Logue – Diocese of Georgia
  • The Rev. Canon Lance Ousley – Diocese of Olympia and St. John’s Episcopal Church, Kirkland, Washington
  • The Rev. Marty Stebbins – St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, Wilson, North Carolina

Nominees’ biographical information and answers to a series of questions, can be found here.

The Rev. Jay Mills, president of the Standing Committee, said, “It is my humble honor to be involved in the bishop search as the chair of the Standing Committee. It is truly exciting to be part of the opening of God’s choice for us for our new bishop. We are truly lucky to be a healthy, happy diocese in the midst of that search. It made us an attractive diocese, I suspect, for interested folks.”

“The Search and Nominating Committee has worked hard;” said Chairman Joe Vrba, “we’ve prayed even harder and we’ve shed a few tears along the way. We’ve trusted in the Holy Spirit throughout. And, you know, everything worked out fine. Every one of us feels blessed in having been part of this process.”

As allowed by the constitution and canons of the diocese, additional nominations may be put forward via the petition process for two weeks following the announcement of the slate. The petition window is now open and will close at the end of the day on May 12, 2017.

As the work of the Search and Nominating Committee comes to a close, the work of the Transition Committee is already well underway, with “walkabouts” scheduled to give every person in the Diocese of East Tennessee a chance to get to know the nominees before the special electing convention in July. Additional details will be shared on the bishop search website and on all diocesan communication channels in the coming weeks.

The 5th bishop of the Episcopal Church in East Tennessee will succeed the Rt. Rev. George Dibrell Young, III, who announced his retirement last April. Young has served as bishop since June 2011.

Episcopal Church ready to make history with Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 12:20pm

Diocese of Indianapolis Bishop-elect Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, left, will succeed Indianapolis’ 10th bishop, Catherine Waynick, right, who, 20 years ago, became the fourth woman to lead an Episcopal Church diocese. This will be the first time in the Church’s history that a woman has succeeded another woman in the episcopate. Baskerville-Burrows took what she called this “selfie of selfies” April 22 at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Carmel, Indiana, before a celebration of Waynick’s ministry. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows first tried to read the Bible when she was 8 years old.

“I thought that is what I should do because I wanted to go to church so bad and nobody was taking me, so I thought I’ll read the Bible,” she said.

Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows

Soon to be 11th bishop, Diocese of Indianapolis
Soon to make history
+ 1st female black diocesan bishop
+ 15th female diocesan bishop
+ 6th female diocesan bishop currently active
+ 26th female bishop diocesan or suffragan
+ 44th black bishop in Episcopal Church history
+ 1,100th bishop in Episcopal Church history
Quote: “My call is to be the best bishop I can be for this diocese.”

That tiny Gideon Bible belonged to her maternal grandfather, Joseph McCray, who would die two years later, after instilling in her a lifelong love of cooking, among other legacies.

“They passed on so long ago but I have been thinking about the sacrifices that they made, and they cannot have imagined that life that I have now,” Baskerville-Burrows said about McCray and his wife, Mary Weaver, during an interview with Episcopal News Service.

After a grand liturgy on April 29, Baskerville-Burrows’ life will include being the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis.

Baskerville-Burrows, who previously served as director of networking for the Diocese of Chicago, will make history that day when Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and more than 40 other bishops call down the Holy Spirit to ordain and consecrate her as the church’s first black female diocesan bishop.

The service will take place just more than 28 years since now-retired Massachusetts Bishop Suffragan Barbara Harris, who also is African-American, became the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion.

Baskerville-Burrows will succeed Indianapolis’ 10th bishop, Catherine Waynick, who 20 years ago became the fourth woman to lead an Episcopal Church diocese. This will be the first time in the Church’s history that a woman has succeeded another woman in an episcopate.

Baskerville-Burrows is the 26th woman elected bishop in the Episcopal Church and will be the 12th female diocesan bishop, as well as the 44th African-American bishop and the 1,100th bishop overall in the Episcopal Church’s history.

The bishop-elect is also an enrolled member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, a federally recognized tribe based on Long Island in New York. Her paternal grandfather was a Shinnecock member who grew up on the tribe’s reservation.

Baskerville-Burrows became a Christian as a young adult and chose to join the Episcopal Church at Trinity Church Wall Street in lower Manhattan. She was baptized there in 1989, the year after she graduated from college.

“There is probably no better thing I could be than to be serving God in this way for a good section of my family,” she told ENS, struggling not to cry. “There is just nothing better. I am going to be thinking about that and their hopes and dreams and the wonder of it all.”

Those folks include her uncle, Clarvis Soanes, who will join her husband, Harrison Burrows, to bring the gifts to the altar during the April 29 service. Soanes also walked Baskerville-Burrows down the aisle at her 2003 wedding in place of her father, who died in 1991.

Meanwhile, despite much media attention, the historic nature of her pending episcopate has not been uppermost in Baskerville-Burrows’ mind during the days leading up to her ordination and consecration.

“I probably downplay it way too much. That’s not the biggest thing in my mind, not daily anyway,” she said, adding that the awareness “comes in spurts,” especially when she meets people who express their excitement.

Then she realizes that some people are responding the same way she did when she heard about Harris becoming the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion. “Every now and again it strikes me that for some women in the church this is now going to be possible because someone is finally doing it,” she said. “That catches me short.”

“At the end of the day, I think the way I keep my sanity about all that is to say that my call is to be the best bishop I can be for this diocese,” she said. “And in doing that I will be the best role model I can be for other young men and women of color or of European descent” who might want to discern if they are similarly called.

Being the best bishop for the diocese in the coming years, Baskerville-Burrows said, means nurturing what she sees as the Episcopal Church’s “particular voice and call” in the state of Indiana.

“We’ve got this Episcopal Church which for many decades has been the progressive, inclusive, all-y’all-come, we-serve-all diocese in the midst of a state that is far more conservative,” she said of the diocese.

“What I hear, and what I have seen over and over again, is this is where people go when they want to be about a gospel message love, hope and transformation.”

While other faith communities use the same language, Baskerville-Burrows said, “we mean them in such broad terms, it stands in stark relief to the alternative on the religious landscape.”

Diocese of Indianapolis Bishop-elect Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows speaks April 21 to the crowd outside the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood after a public procession that was part of the Bishops United Against Gun Violence’s “Unholy Trinity” conference. Baskerville-Burrows helped plan the conference. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Baskerville-Burrows began her time as bishop-elect in Indianapolis visiting congregations on the outer edges of the diocese. She has met many people who are drawn to the Episcopal Church’s expression of Christianity.

“We are providing this broad welcome for people who want to do the Jesus Movement stuff that Michael Curry preaches about,” Baskerville-Burrows said, adding that she wants to help the diocese continue to be clear and bold about articulating that welcome.

“We’ve got a little bubble here that I’d love to expand,” she said of the diocese’s 48 congregations and about 10,000 Episcopalians.

As she prepares for her historic position, Baskerville-Burrows said she has been thinking about and talking to others about how the church can remove the barriers to women and people of color entering leadership roles at all levels of the church. Doing so will eventually lead to bishop elections offering more diverse slates of nominees to dioceses more willing to consider them, she added.

The Diocese of Indianapolis has been trying to do just that, and the effort laid the foundation for the people of the diocese to elect a nominee like her, Baskerville-Burrows said. The track of her own life should be more commonplace, she added.

“I have had really good experiences and good mentors who helped me discern every move I made and I want that to be normative. I don’t want that to be the exception,” she said.

Roots in New York City

Baskerville-Burrows was raised in the housing projects of New York City and educated in the city’s public schools through high school. She has one brother. Her mother, who will be present April 29, still lives in New York City.

The bishop-elect holds a bachelor’s degree (1988) from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she majored in architecture and minored in urban studies. She earned a master’s degree in historic preservation planning from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, in 1994 and a master of divinity degree from Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California, in 1997.

Ordained by the Diocese of Central New York, she was rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Syracuse, New York, and Episcopal chaplain at Syracuse University from 2004 to 2012. She has also served at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Endicott, New York, and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, New Jersey, and as director of alumni relations at Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

The diocese elected Baskerville-Burrows out of a field of five nominees on the second ballot Oct. 28 at Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis. At the time, she was director of networking for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, a role she began in 2012. In that role, she led the diocese’s communications, fundraising and community relations, including initiatives against racism and gun violence.

One of the defining experiences of her ministry came when she found herself at Trinity Wall Street near the World Trade Center the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, part of a small group of Episcopalians from across the country meeting with  Bishop Rowan Williams, who would soon be named Archbishop of Canterbury. After the attack, she spent hours with others in a stairwell of Trinity’s office building.

As the tension of the unknown rose in the stairwell, she told Episcopal News Service in 2011, she confronted the prospect of dying that day. She realized that she was standing next to the Rev. James Calloway, who had baptized her. “I thought, here’s where I came into life and I might die here, and if I was going to die, maybe this is OK … I can be reconciled to that,” she told ENS in the 2011 interview below.

About 19 months after that day, Baskerville-Burrows married Harrison Burrows, a native of Crown Haven in the Bahamas.

Burrows was a youth minister in the Bahamas who has studied at Bexley Hall (an Episcopal seminary formerly located in Rochester, New York) and Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Burrows now works in sales.

Their son Timothy Burrows, 6, is a kindergarten student at St. Richard’s Episcopal School in Indianapolis.

Baskerville-Burrows is an accomplished distance runner and triathlete. During her 2016 sabbatical, she attended a running retreat for mothers in Spokane, Washington, and visited Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas to record the recipes of her husband’s great-aunt, who is the island’s bread baker. Baskerville-Burrows is an avid cook and baker who once had a blog called Cookin’ in the ‘Cuse.

The congregation attending the Diocese of Indianapolis Bishop-elect Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows’ ordination and consecration April 26 will receive wine during communion from specially designed chalices. “Hoosier” (ˈhü-zhər) is a longtime nickname for the state of Indiana and its residents. Photo: Debra Kissinger

A weekend of celebration

The April 29 liturgy takes place at Clowes Memorial Hall on the Butler University campus in Indianapolis. Curry, the church’s first African-American leader, will preside and he will be joined by more than 40 bishops. The service will be webcast here, and the prelude begins at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Curry will visit St. David’s Episcopal Church in tiny Bean Blossom, Indiana, about 50 miles south of Indianapolis on April 30 for a 10:30 a.m. Eucharist. The service will be webcast here. St. David’s was one of at least two Episcopal churches – the other was in suburban Washington, D.C. – that were vandalized on the same night just after the November presidential election.

Baskerville-Burrows will be seated in Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis during an April 30 liturgy that begins at 11 a.m. A block party will follow.

A full schedule of events that begin April 28 is here.

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

Life feed: Social media updates from the #ClimateMarch

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 1:56pm

We’re following the latest out of Washington, D.C. and the People’s Climate March.

Prayer service planned for last of four Arkansas executions as activists seek to end death penalty

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 12:52pm

Anti-death penalty activists hold a vigil outside the governor’s mansion in Little Rock, Arkansas, on April 20 in this photo shared on Facebook by the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians in Arkansas are preparing to gather once more for a prayer service on the eve of what is expected to be the final in a series of expedited executions by the state, which activists say could give momentum to efforts to abolish the death penalty.

Arkansas is scheduled April 27 to execute convicted murder Kenneth Williams, 38, the fourth death row inmate to be executed in a week, as the state rushes to carry out the sentences before its stock of one of its lethal injection drugs expires. Before this month, Arkansas had not carried out an execution in nearly 12 years.

As it did on the eves of the previous three executions, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock will hold a brief ecumenical service at 6 p.m. April 27 followed by a candlelight vigil that will culminate in the toll of bells. The service will offer prayers for Williams, for his victims and their families and for the corrections employees who will be carrying out the execution.

“For all of these, and for ourselves, we will pray for hope, for strength and for mercy,” cathedral spokesman Josiah Wheeler told Episcopal News Service.

The Episcopal Church has stood against the death penalty since it was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976, with several General Convention resolutions calling for the death penalty to be abolished, most recently in 2015.

The death penalty still is in effect in 31 states, but the number of executions nationwide has dropped steadily since 1999, from a high of 98 that year to 20 in 2016, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Arkansas has executed 30 inmates since 1976 but none since 2005, until this month.

The state had planned to execute eight inmates in 10 days, starting on Easter Monday, but four of those executions have been halted by court order.

The Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas has been active in efforts to end capital punishment in the state, and Bishop Larry Benfield joined clergy from other denominations on April 12 in a rally at the Capitol to call on Gov. Asa Hutchinson to stop the executions.

“We have believed in the goodness of hard work and respect for neighbor and faith in God. But we are being led astray by a peculiar ethic that states that vengeance is a virtue, when in fact it is not,” Benfield said, according to quotes provided by the diocese. “I can only speak from the Christian tradition, but I can say definitively from my own religious upbringing that vengeance is not a mark of Christian ethics.”

The Rev. Mary Janet “Bean” Murray, a retired deacon, and member of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock, said she and other anti-death penalty activists are disheartened that a fourth execution is expected to be carried out, but they already are looking beyond this week in stepping up their push for changing state law. She is vice president of a group called the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, which met this week to discuss its future strategy.

“We will continue to work and work until the death penalty is no longer an issue,” Murray told ENS.

Caroline Stevenson, another Episcopalian from Little Rock, said the recent executions may give people who favored the death penalty a reason to rethink their support.

“I think that we can change some minds with the facts,” said Stevenson, a member of Episcopal Peace Fellowship. “We have to challenge people’s faith and say, this isn’t what Christianity is all about.”

Four states have abolished the death penalty since 2009: New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland. Nebraska’s Legislature passed a law in 2015 eliminating capital punishment, but it was reinstated by popular vote in 2016.

Public opinion has for decades tilted in favor of the death penalty, with a Gallup poll from 2016 showing 60 percent of respondents supporting a death sentence for someone convicted of murder. Support typically decreases when alternatives are suggested. When asked whether they would choose to sentence a murderer to death or to life in prison, 50 percent said they would choose the death penalty in a 2014 Gallup poll.

The fight to abolish the death penalty may remain an uphill battle in pro-death penalty states like Arkansas, but Murray and other Episcopalians see killing of any kind as incompatible with what their Christian faith teaches.

“When we say in our baptismal vows that we’ll respect the dignity of every human being, that includes criminals too,” Murray said.

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

 

RIP: Nancy Marvel, former Episcopal Relief & Development executive director

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 11:40am

[Episcopal Relief & Development]  A long-time resident of Pelham, New York, Nancy Marvel died on Monday, April 17, 2017, at the age of 85.

Affectionately known as “Nan,” she served as the executive director from 1995 to 1998 for Episcopal Relief & Development, formerly the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief. 

Marvel was hired by the Episcopal Church in 1976 to work under Presiding Bishop John Allin. In 1981, she joined the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief  (the PB Fund) to work on the grants program. Eventually, she was promoted to the director of grants, overseeing its domestic and overseas granting work.

During her tenure, the PB Fund was undergoing a major programmatic and operational shift to expand the focus on disaster response and recovery, and to incorporate sustainable development into its small grants program. Marvel recognized the Church’s growing interest and awareness in addressing challenges such as hunger, poverty, disaster and disease worldwide.

Before Marvel retired to become a national representative and ambassador for the PB Fund, Hurricane Mitch ravaged parts of the U.S., Central America and the Caribbean in late 1998. She led the PB Fund’s initial response in Honduras and other neighboring countries.

Over a four-year period, the community of Faith, Hope and Joy was constructed in Honduras, with 200 houses, a school, a clinic and a church. Microfinance activities and agricultural projects were launched to create economic opportunities and to help spur growth in the devastated region. This integrated approach became a core element of the organization’s disaster relief work as well as the first long-term recovery program in its history.

After retiring from the PB Fund, Marvel actively volunteered with her congregation, Christ the Redeemer Church in Pelham, the Westchester Junior League, The Manor Club and other organizations.

Marvel was a committed and long-serving staff member who contributed significantly and faithfully to the PB Fund, helping to shape and plant seeds for Episcopal Relief & Development’s future efforts.

“On behalf of our staff and board, I express sincere condolences to Nancy’s family, friends and colleagues around the Church,” said Rob Radtke, president of Episcopal Relief & Development. “She played a critical role in the evolution of this organization. Her compassion and numerous contributions will remain with us.”

Marvel is preceded in death by her husband, Robert C. Marvel. She is survived by a son, daughter, two stepdaughters, five granddaughters and many other relatives. 

In lieu of flowers, Nancy Marvel’s family has requested that memorial gifts are sent to:

Episcopal Relief & Development
P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield
Virginia 22116-7058

Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 29 at Christ Church, 1415 Pelhamdale Avenue, Pelham, NY.

Attorneys urge Bishop Bruno disciplinary panel to move in opposite directions

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 6:17pm

The Hearing Panel considering the disciplinary case against Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno consists of, from left, the Rev. Erik Larsen of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely, Diocese of Southern Virginia Bishop Herman Hollerith IV (panel president), panel legal advisor Brad Davenport, Deborah Stokes of Southern Ohio and North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Attorneys representing the Episcopal Church and Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno are asking an ecclesiastical disciplinary panel to come to opposite conclusions about whether the bishop violated church law in attempting to sell St. James the Great Episcopal Church.

Attorneys for Bruno argued for dismissal of the charges while the Episcopal Church’s attorney asked the members to find the bishop guilty but craft a sentence aimed at reconciliation. Their arguments came in briefs released close to a month after a rare bishop disciplinary hearing.

The misconduct allegations, initially brought by the members of St. James, stem from Bruno’s unsuccessful 2015 attempt to sell the church in Newport Beach to a condominium developer for $15 million in cash.

St. James was one of four properties that the diocese spent close to $10 million in litigation to recover from disaffiliated Episcopalians who broke with the Church over its policies on women’s ordination and the full inclusion of LGBTQI members in the life of the church, including ordained ministry.

Church Attorney Raymond “Jerry” Coughlan, left, shows Diocese of Los Angeles J. Jon Bruno documents during the bishop’s testimony March 29. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Bruno is at least the 10th bishop of the nearly 1,100 bishops in Episcopal Church history to have a disciplinary accusation against him reach the level of a formal hearing under the Church’s process for handling complaints applicable at the time. His trial was the first of a bishop since the Episcopal Church’s extensively revised Title IV disciplinary canons went into effect July 1, 2011.

The hearing on accusations that he violated church canons, including engaging in conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy took place March 28-30 in Pasadena, California. The attorneys did not make oral closing arguments at the end of the testimony, opting instead to file written briefs. Those briefs could not be completed until after a transcript of the testimony was finished.

The Hearing Panel has not acted on the attorneys’ recommendation and it is not known when the members will issue their decision. The panel has a range of actions it can take, from dismissal of the allegations to removing Bruno from his ordained ministry.

Diocese of Los Angeles Chancellor Richard Zevnik and Vice Chancellor Julie Dean Larsen urged the panel in their brief to dismiss the entire case against Bruno. They said in the conclusion to their brief that a “civil lawsuit, political actions and social media campaign” mounted by members of St. James the Great in Newport Beach were “wrongfully, but successfully and strategically, designed to stop the sale of [the] 40,000-square foot church property” on what is known as Lido Island, a prosperous housing development sporting a yacht club.

The Church’s clergy disciplinary canon, the chancellors argue, is “not intended to be used as a weapon to challenge a diocesan bishop’s decisions regarding the administration and stewardship of his or her diocese.”

Along with the brief, Bruno’s chancellors also submitted a proposed order dismissing the charges, as well as a 65-page list of exhibits in the case. The Hearing Panel requested neither of the latter documents.

Episcopal Church Attorney Raymond “Jerry” Coughlan, on the other hand, argued in his brief that Bruno is guilty of “serious misconduct” in violating three sections of the Title IV canons: “failing to exercise his ministry in accordance with applicable church canons,” “conduct involving dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation” and “conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy. He said the panel must conclude that Bruno’s conduct was “calculated, pervasive and long-running.”

Because of those violations and because “today he shows no sign of recognizing even the possibility of his misconduct,” Coughlan recommended that panel suspend Bruno from ministry for at least a year.

However, because he said such a sentence would only exacerbate the conflict and not lead to reconciliation, Coughlan urged the panel to use its “broad authority” to craft a remedy that “looks forward creatively to heal the division now existing in the Los Angeles diocese.” That remedy would begin with staying any sentence of suspension if Bruno agrees not to appeal the panel’s finding.

Then, Coughlan suggested, a creative remedy could include:

  • Restricting Bruno’s ministry from having any role in the future administration of St. James unless asked to do so.
  • Requiring that St. James promptly be reopened for Episcopal worship under the auspices of an independent member of the diocese, such as in incoming Bishop Coadjutor John Taylor, with the advice of a committee he chooses.
  • Maintaining the Rev. Cindy Evan Voorhees as the paid vicar of the congregation for the rest of 2017 and 2018.
  • Finding that Bruno violated the two sections of Title IV but foregoing a ministry suspension and instead admonishing Bruno “to work with the new leader to effect reconciliation of all parties in the diocese, as and if that person requests.” The latter would recognize the bishop’s “many years of service, and the overarching need for everyone to move on to promote healing, forgiveness, justice and reconciliation among all in the community.”

Coughlan also submitted an unsolicited 36-page “statement of proposed facts” that presents his version of a timeline of the events leading up to the hearing.

Following the Hearing Panel’s decision, attorneys for both parties will have 40 days to appeal its decision to the Court of Review for Bishops.

Bruno turns 72, the Church’s mandatory retirement age, in late 2018. Taylor, his successor, is scheduled to be ordained and consecrated on July 8 of this year.

Because none of the previous steps of the Title IV disciplinary process resolved the issue, when the complaints against Bruno got to the point of seating a Hearing Panel, the Episcopal Church replaced St. James as the complainant in the case. Coughlan, representing the Episcopal Church, presented the case to the panel. The St. James members originally filed a complaint against Bruno on July 6, 2015. According to the Title IV process, the Church pays for the costs of the disciplinary process for bishops.

Diocese of Southern Virginia Bishop Herman Hollerith IV is president of the Hearing Panel. The panel, appointed by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops from among its members, also includes Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely, North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith, the Rev. Erik Larsen of Rhode Island and Deborah Stokes of Southern Ohio.

The St. James the Great complainants alleged that Bruno violated church canons because he

  • failed to get the consent of the diocesan standing committee before entering a contract to sell the property;
  • misrepresented his intention for the property to the members, the clergy and the local community at large;
  • misrepresented that St. James the Great was not a sustainable congregation;
  • misrepresented that Voorhees had resigned as vicar;
  • misrepresented to some St. James members that he would lease the property back to them for many months and that the diocese would financially aid the church; and
  • engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy by “misleading and deceiving” the clergy and people of St. James, as well as the local community, about his plans for the property and for taking possession of the property and locking out the congregation. It continues to worship in a rented room at city hall.

Previous ENS coverage of the hearing is here.

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

Episcopal foundation in Georgia raises $26,000 for anti-hunger efforts at walk/run

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 5:52pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta press release] The Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia, or ECF, has announced $26,000 in anti-hunger grants from proceeds of its 33rd Annual Hunger Walk/Run, held in partnership with the Atlanta Community Food Bank and local faith organizations.

More than 450 Episcopalians walked, ran or volunteered for the Diocese of Atlanta on March 5, with 34 teams formed in support of ECF. Prior to the 5K walk/run, more than 120 youth and adults attended the Eucharist at nearby Emmaus House, celebrated by the Rev. Ricardo Bailey, which featured a powerful sermon by ECF board member Clayton Harrington calling Episcopalians to “choose the hard way” of fighting against poverty and oppression.

“Each year the Episcopal community shows up to not only participate in the Hunger Walk/Run but to raise funds to support those facing food insecurity in our community,” said Lindsey Hardegree, executive director for the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia. “The need is great. More than 25 percent of Georgia children face food insecurity, and Georgia is seventh in the nation for senior citizens facing hunger. Funds raised by our parishes through the Hunger Walk/Run are granted back to our communities to help end hunger.”

The 2017 Hunger Walk/Run was an incredible success, and with the significant help of parishes around the Diocese, ECF has received nearly $26,000 to support local hunger-related ministries and organizations. ECF is dedicated to funding opportunities for Episcopal parishes to work with their local community and nonprofits to serve the poor and oppressed. With that in mind, ECF will grant these funds to the following hunger-related ministries and organizations: 

  • Action Ministries, which partners with multiple Episcopal parishes, will receive a grant of $10,000 to support its regional hunger initiatives in the Northwest (Rome area), Mountain (Gainesville area), Northeast (Athens-Clarke County area) and Piedmont (Covington area) Regions.
  • Community Helping Place will receive a grant of $4,000 for food costs at their food pantry, which has been matched by a $4,000 gift from the parishioners of St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church (Dahlonega).
  • Malachi’s Storehouse will receive a grant of $10,400 to underwrite the cost of chicken for their food pantry at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church (Dunwoody) for one year.
  • St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church (Decatur) will receive a grant of $1,329.19 toward purchasing a new refrigerator/freezer as a part of the expansion of its food pantry ministry to enable hot meal service. 

Special thanks also go out to the top fundraising individuals:

  • Shirley Lee of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church (Atlanta)
  • Connie Bergeron of St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church (Marietta)
  • Ashley Erwin of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church (Atlanta)
  • Veronica Ridenhour of St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church (Morrow)
  • Zachary Thompson of Church of Our Saviour (Atlanta)

In addition, this year, the Right Rev. Robert C. Wright issued a challenge for the Bishop’s Cup – the parish that raised the most funds for the Hunger Walk/Run would receive the coveted trophy as well as a gift of $3,300 to be used for the parish’s outreach ministries. 

This year’s recipient of the Bishop’s Cup is St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, which raised $6,760. Special recognition goes to St. James Episcopal Church (Clayton), which came in a close second at $4,940, and to Church of Our Saviour, Christ Church (Norcross), and St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church, which each raised more than $2,000 to help end hunger in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. 

Mothers’ Union warns against a ‘weakening resolve’ in fight for women’s empowerment

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 12:12pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Mothers’ Union has warned against a “weakening resolve” in the fight for women’s empowerment and called upon the UK to do more to promote gender equality, and end discrimination against women in the workplace. Following the 61st United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which focused on “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work,” Mothers’ Union spoke out about its concern over the scaling down of rhetoric and faltering language recorded in the Agreed Conclusions from the Commission.

Full article.

Bruce Myers intronisé comme évêque anglican de Québec

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 12:00pm

Mgr Bruce Myers a officiellement été intronisé comme 13e évêque anglican de Québec le 22 avril 2017. (Présence/Philippe Vaillancourt)

[Présence – information religieuse] L’intronisation du 13e évêque anglican de Québec a eu lieu le 22 avril à la cathédrale de la Sainte-Trinité, dans le Vieux-Québec. En plus des gestes traditionnels posés lors de l’intronisation d’un nouvel évêque, ce sont surtout les paroles prononcées par Mgr Bruce Myers et ses invités interreligieux sur le sens de la foi dans la société actuelle qui ont retenu l’attention.

Comme le veut la tradition, Bruce Myers se trouvait à l’extérieur de la cathédrale au début de la célébration tandis que l’assemblée patientait à l’intérieur. De sa crosse, il a donné trois grands coups contre la principale porte d’entrée, annonçant solennellement sa présence.

Une voix a retenti en anglais dans l’enceinte de la première cathédrale anglicane construite à l’extérieur des îles britanniques. «Frère et sœurs du diocèse de Québec, notre nouvel évêque est arrivé en sa cathédrale pour y réclamer sa place parmi nous. Ouvrons-lui les portes et levons-nous pour l’accueillir!»

Dans le vestibule, Bruce Myers y est allé d’un premier geste symbolique: il s’est d’abord adressé à l’assemblée en français.

L’ensemble de la célébration a d’ailleurs accordé une grande place à la langue de Molière, de même qu’à l’anglais et qu’au naskapi, langue autochtone parlée dans le diocèse de Québec, qui fut notamment utilisée au moment de l’évangile.

Après la lecture des certificats d’élection et d’ordination, le pasteur de 44 ans a été conduit sur sa cathèdre, où il a reçu une ovation des quelque 280 personnes qui assistaient à son intronisation.

«J’ai rencontré le Christ ressuscité presque partout en parcourant notre diocèse»

Dans son homélie, il a blagué au sujet de l’incrédulité des apôtres devant la résurrection de Jésus. «Ça pourrait être une fausse nouvelle», a lancé l’ancien journaliste qui couvrait la politique provinciale à l’Assemblée nationale avant de devenir prêtre. Ce n’est que plus tard, a-t-il noté, que les proches de Jésus ont cru.

«Et quelle histoire: une histoire de lumière qui repousse la noirceur, de pouvoir rendu parfait par la faiblesse, d’espoir outrepassant la peur, d’amour surmontant la haine, de la vie rachetant la mort», a indiqué l’évêque, mettant en garde contre le risque d’être «blasé» par cette histoire entendue si souvent.

«Ça ne serait pas honnête de ma part de me présenter devant vous ce matin et de prétendre que nous n’avons pas perdu beaucoup de choses. Il y a cent ans, le nombre de fidèles anglicans dans notre diocèse était cinq fois plus élevé qu’il ne l’est aujourd’hui. Il y a bien des raisons pour cette décroissance – plusieurs d’entre elles étant des éléments hors de notre contrôle – mais il s’agit néanmoins d’une perte. Et cela correspond à une tendance lourde au Québec.»

Oui, a-t-il convenu, il s’agit d’une «perte», mais celle-ci ne doit pas avoir comme effet de faire perdre espoir.

Élu évêque coadjuteur de Québec à l’automne 2015 et ordonné évêque en mai 2016, Mgr Myers a passé la dernière année à visiter les confins des 720 000 kilomètres carrés du diocèse érigé en 1793.

Sa mission, a-t-il continué, est d’être le pasteur de «petites, mais ferventes communautés d’anglicans qui vivent éparpillés sur un grand territoire; prêcher, enseigner et célébrer les sacrements dans tous mes déplacements, et tenter d’encourager nos gens, où qu’ils soient, à voir – et à être – Jésus ressuscité».

«Et je vous affirme que je l’ai vu. J’ai rencontré le Christ ressuscité presque partout en parcourant notre diocèse.»

Il a conclu son homélie bilingue en appelant les chrétiens à aller à travers le Québec, «non pas en gémissant et en pleurant parce que les sondages nous disent que nos voisins n’ont pas la foi autant qu’avant, mais plutôt en agissant comme des témoins de Jésus-Christ – parce que, dans cette ère séculaire, l’exemple de nos vies en tant que disciples de Jésus aura plus de poids que bien des paroles que nous pourrions prononcer au nom du Christ».

Bien accueilli par les autres leaders religieux de Québec

Après la communion, le primat de l’Église anglicane du Canada, Mgr Fred Hiltz, et le métropolite de la province anglicane du Canada, Mgr Percy Coffin, ont d’abord pris la parole pour souligner les qualités du nouvel évêque de Québec, Mgr Hiltz évoquant sa «douceur d’âme».

L’archevêque catholique de Québec, le cardinal Gérald Lacroix, a salué «un frère et un ami». Les deux hommes habitent à l’archevêché catholique et il leur arrive de manger et de prier ensemble. Il voit en Mgr Myers un pasteur qui poursuivra une «longue tradition de relations harmonieuses» entre les anglicans et les catholiques de Québec.

«Vous qui avez été journaliste, le Seigneur vous appelle maintenant à être porteur de Bonne Nouvelle», a-t-il lancé à la blague.

David Weiser, le président de la congrégation juive Beth Israel Ohev Sholom, a lui aussi pris le temps de souhaiter la bienvenue à Mgr Myers, saluant la «plénitude» des communautés de foi de Québec qui se vit dans «nos diversités».

Enfin, le cofondateur du Centre culturel islamique de Québec, Boufeldja Benabdallah, a déclaré que «nous sommes tous des frères en Dieu». Il a évoqué un «pacte du cœur» avec le nouvel évêque. «La solitude d’hier, aujourd’hui je ne la sens pas du tout», a-t-il ajouté. La tuerie du 29 janvier qui a frappé la grande mosquée de Québec a en effet rapproché des fidèles anglicans et musulmans au cours des derniers mois.

Des représentants de l’Église Unie du Canada et de l’Église presbytérienne ont aussi assisté à l’intronisation. Celui qui fut évêque anglican de Québec de 2009 à 2017, Mgr Dennis Drainville, n’y était pas. Il a officiellement remis sa démission le 19 avril. Son épouse, la révérende Cynthia Patterson, était toutefois présente samedi matin.

RIP: Seventh Bishop of Albany David Standish Ball

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 4:46pm

[Diocese of Albany] The Rt. Rev. David Standish Ball, seventh bishop of the Diocese of Albany, passed away peacefully on the afternoon of April 18th, 2017.

Ball was born June 11, 1926, in Albany, New York. He attended The Milne School in Albany, where he was class president and a popular athlete. Ball served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and graduated from Colgate University in 1950. He attended the General Theological Seminary, graduating in 1953. He was ordained a deacon on June 14, 1953, and a priest on December 21, 1953, in Albany.

Ball began his ordained ministry as a curate at Bethesda Church in Saratoga Springs, New York, serving there until 1956, when he was made canon sacrist at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany. He served three years as canon sacrist and two years as canon precentor and was then elected dean of the cathedral in 1960. He served the cathedral as dean for 23 years. During that time, he was filled with compassion for the increasing number of poor and homeless on the streets of Albany and was eventually elected as president of the Dudley Park Housing Authority, where he helped raise $5 million to develop a housing project in the Arbor Hill neighborhood of Albany, near the cathedral.

On October 10, 1983, he was elected bishop coadjutor of Albany. In February 1984, he was consecrated by Presiding Bishop John Maury Allin, Bishop David E. Richards, former suffragan of Albany, and the sixth bishop of Albany, Bishop Wilbur Emory Hogg. Upon Hogg’s retirement, in October 1984, Ball was installed as the seventh bishop of Albany at the Cathedral of All Saints. Soon after becoming bishop, he established the Step Out in Faith campaign, which raised several million dollars for the diocese. He was known for his support of hospitals, nursing homes, schools, St. Margaret’s Center for Children, in addition to the poor and the homeless. A frequent sight on Albany streets was to see a homeless or poor person stop him and ask for money. Without hesitation, he always gave something. He served as bishop of Albany until he reached the mandatory retirement age in 1998.

After his retirement, he was active in local charities. The Bishop Ball Golf Tournament, a fundraiser for the Cathedral of All Saints, is named in his honor. The Doane Stuart School, on whose board he sat until mid-2008, named a trustee award for him. He continued to serve as bishop-in-residence at the Cathedral of All Saints until his death.

Ball’s life was dedicated to the service of God, and he served God willingly and humbly, with a heart for the needy and the marginalized in the community. He often said the secret to ministry was, “to say your prayers and love your people.” He will be sorely missed.

Calling hours for Ball will be on Friday, April 28 from 3 to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at The Cathedral of All Saints, 62 South Swan St, Albany NY 12210. Funeral services will be on Saturday, April 29th at 11 a.m. at the cathedral.

U.S.-born priest elected bishop of Caledonia

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 2:05pm

[Anglican Journal] The Rev. Jake Worley, an Alabama-born priest, has been elected bishop of the diocese of Caledonia.

Worley, rector of the Bulkley Valley Regional Parish, which includes three congregations in northern British Columbia, was elected on the eighth ballot of an episcopal election held in Prince Rupert on April 22.

“It was an amazing experience of the Holy Spirit,” Worley said. “He certainly came there and moved on our hearts. It was amazing. I don’t know what else to say besides we’re in many ways shocked, but also grateful, for his leading.”

Full article.

Iraqi refugee becomes Anglican priest in Canada

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 2:02pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Rev, Ayoob Shawkat Adwar, a priest formerly in the Chaldean Catholic Church, was received as an Anglican priest at a ceremony in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, last month.

The event was a “small but significant piece of history,” says Archdeacon Stephen Rowe, rector of the Anglican Parish of the Church of the Epiphany in Surrey, since Adwar is thought to be the first Chaldean priest in history to have become a member of the Anglican clergy.

Full article.

‘Unholy Trinity’ serves as call to action on poverty, racism, gun violence

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 1:24pm

From left, Diocese of Chicago Bishop Jeffrey Lee, Diocese of Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith, Diocese of Maryland Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton and Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde carry an “Unholy Trinity” conference banner as they lead a procession April 21 on the streets of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Chicago, Illinois] Eager to work toward solutions to the problems of poverty, racism and gun violence, Episcopal bishops, clergy members and lay people gathered for three days last week for a conference in Chicago, the American city that recorded the most homicides in 2016.

The city’s recent surge in deadly violence provided a grim backdrop for Bishops United Against Gun Violence’s “Unholy Trinity” conference held April 20-22 at the Lutheran School of Theology in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood. But speakers regularly emphasized that the problem is not isolated to one city, nor is the outlook as bleak as many news headlines suggest.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest and activist in Chicago, speaks from a podium at the midpoint of the Unholy Trinity procession April 21. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The conference drew about 150 attendees from 37 Episcopal dioceses, including 25 bishops and one bishop-elect. The attendees were predominantly Episcopalians, though other Christian denominations also were represented, including Lutheran and Presbyterian, and a Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, preached at the halfway point of a public procession on April 21.

An underlying theme of the conference was how the Episcopal Church and Christians, in general, have a unique ability to be a force for change in the country despite daunting challenges. Among those challenges is the belief of some Christians that social justice causes should not be the church’s causes, a stance that the Rev. Julian DeShazier picked apart in the conference’s centerpiece “three-note” presentation on April 21.

“When did it become revolutionary for Christians to care about justice?” DeShazier posed rhetorically to the conference attendees in the School of Theology’s chapel.

DeShazier, senior pastor of University Church at the University of Chicago who also is a hip-hop musican known as J.Kwest, said too many Christian churches have become “think tanks” when they should be “action centers.” He drew on his congregation’s experience working with activists on Chicago’s South Side in pressing the university to open a trauma center. The surrounding neighborhoods, despite high rates of violence, have no trauma center close by.

The other two presenters were Natalie Moore, a WBEZ-FM reporter who covers the South Side, and the Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, a professor of religion at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, and canon theologian at Washington National Cathedral.

Honored to be part of the 3-note this morning w/ @natalieymoore and Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown-Douglas. Amazing sisters #unholy3 #kwesting pic.twitter.com/QJNouDfoEw

— J.Kwest (@PureKwest) April 21, 2017

Moore argued that racism is partly behind the national focus on Chicago’s violence, and she also suggested a political motive to criticisms of the city, former President Barack Obama’s hometown. She urged listeners to look beyond the stereotypes, such as the inner city as a war zone, as they work to end gun violence.

.@natalieymoore .@natalieymoore: If we talk about cities as war zones, it's young black men who are the enemy. Deeply unhelpful. #Unholy3

— The Cross Lobby (@TheCrossLobby) April 21, 2017

Douglas, in her presentation, detailed racism’s roots in Colonial-era America before outlining an indictment of white supremacy in the U.S. The higher rates of poverty and incarceration that blacks face today, she argued, are continuing effects of a “violent anti-black narrative that helps to define American identity.”

Given such historic and systemic oppression, why is it surprising that blacks face a greater threat of violence, Douglas asked.

“The system has been structured to lead to their death, not to their life,” she said.

If the words of the three speakers were meant to confront the conference attendees with the hard, historical realities of racism, poverty and gun violence, much of the rest of the conference was aimed at teaching ways to transcend that history and change the oppressive system that persists today.

Activism against gun violence has long the backing of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, which has passed resolutions dating back to 1976 supporting various forms of gun control.

Workshops offered April 21 in the afternoon featured discussions of how to lobby legislators, how to engage with evangelical Christians on these issues and how to develop community organizing campaigns. In one session, the Rev. Carol Reese discussed her work as a chaplain in the trauma center of Chicago’s John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, while in another session a delegation from the Diocese of Massachusetts explained the diocese’s successes working with youth in a program called B-Peace for Jorge, named after a young man who was murdered in 2012.

Diocese of Maryland Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton leads the crowd in chants and songs during the Unholy Trinity procession. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The bishops who convened and hosted the conference echoed the call to action on its final day, April 22. Diocese of Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas of the and Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith divided the attendees into four groups to share ideas on key areas of emphasis: public liturgy, communication strategy, political advocacy and community organizing. And Diocese of Chicago Bishop Jeffrey Lee followed up by speaking to the full conference about ways public liturgy can reach people beyond the walls of a church.

The conference demonstrated the power of public liturgy on the evening of the second day with a procession down the sidewalks of the streets that lead through the University of Chicago.

Diocese of Oklahoma Bishop Edward Konieczny kicked off the procession with a speech atop the School of Theology’s steps. Lee, Douglas and Beckwith, as well as Diocese of Maryland Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton and Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, then carried the conference’s banner as they led the crowd down 55th Street and Ellis Avenue to the Midway Plaisance Park, where Pfleger spoke.

Diocese of Oklahoma Bishop Edward Konieczny addresses the crowd before the procession April 21. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Each of the three days began with a contextual Bible study led by Dora Rudo Mbuwayesango, an Old Testament professor at Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, North Carolina. Participants picked apart two obscure Old Testament passages and the well-known gospel parable of the Good Samaritan, mining them for deeper biblical meaning while also discussing them in the context of the conference.

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

 

One year after earthquake, Ecuador continues to rebuild

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 12:43pm

Vacant lots and ruined buildings in Portoviejo’s central business district are signs of the city’s slow recovery. Photo: Ernesto Chiran

[Episcopal News Service] It was nice out that afternoon, so Lidilia Alvarado, 71, was taking a walk near Tarqui beach with her niece. Suddenly, she saw something different in the sea: the water was getting further and further away from the shore as though emptying out through a drain. “I didn’t know what it was, but I told my niece that we should go home,” she said.

In a matter of seconds, the confusion had gotten worse, the ground was moving, people were shouting, while sirens and some alarms went off. “I made it home, but all I could hear and see were loud explosions and pieces of walls falling,” Alvarado recalled. Later she understood that there had been a 7.8-magnitude earthquake. Ecuador was in mourning.

On April 16, 2016, the tragedy hit the Ecuadorian coastal region. Data from the National Decentralized System of Risk Management indicate that 661 people died, 6,274 were injured, and 28,678 were sent to shelters after their homes suffered damage. A year has gone by since the quake, and in Manta, a coastal city in Manabí Province, the population still faces many difficulties. The Diocese of Ecuador Litoral has been a spiritual companion to the congregations of the four churches most affected by the earthquake and it has also worked with community members who lost everything and are still one year later trying to return to their normal lives.

“It’s still hard; things aren’t back to normal yet. That doesn’t happen overnight,” the Rev. Cristóbal León, Archdeacon of Manabí, told Episcopal News Service. Throughout the past year, the church has conducted many spiritual and social activities amidst devastation.”

The challenges have been many. The ruins of many buildings in downtown Manta are reminders of the tragedy, soldiers are still on the lookout for the looting of uninhabited houses and low economic activity prevents many families from emerging from a state of crisis, said León.

“We always tell the communities not to despair. There are other places that were also afflicted by earthquakes before us and they haven’t been able to move forward. Haiti, for example, still hasn’t recovered. Here at least already few shelters remain,” he said.

A year after the April 16, 2016, 7.8 magnitude earthquake, Portoviejo, Ecuador, is slowly beginning to revive its economy. Photo: Ernesto Chiran

In the case of Alvarado, her house sustained partial damage, but, because of the aftershocks, she and her family were forced to leave because of the risk. “We left for a while, but since the empty houses were starting to get broken into, we went back without anyone’s permission. We went in and we stayed. I spoke with the mayor later, I explained to him that, as a retired person, I have no money,” she said.

Alvarado is a retired lawyer, but her pension is small. With no possibility of renting out the rooms of her house, moving forward hasn’t been easy. “We’re trying to lead a normal life, putting our faith in God. I haven’t been able to completely rebuild my house, but where we live we’re safe,” she said.

Sharing the work

A year ago, the Ecuadorian faithful responded in solidarity toward the most affected areas. They sent food supplies and clothing to the shelters. International aid also come immediately, however, the hard part came months later, when it was time for things to return to normal.

“When the shelters closed down, the aid stopped too. At first, there was an immediate response with food supplies, clothing and medicine; but then the second phase came, of helping these people get their lives back,” said León.

The government offered up to $10,000 in aid to rebuild houses if certain requirements were met, and created three aid programs for that purpose through the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing. But in the communities, not all those affected met the requirements.

The Diocese of Litoral began an aid program to support some members of the community that were ineligible for state grants. The Rev. Jairo Chiran Guillén, a deacon, was in charge of coordinating the aid: he visited the affected houses with a construction foreman and compiled budgets [estimates], and then he sent them to the diocese for its approval.

“We tried to promote solidarity, the families worked together on reconstruction, we just bought the materials and paid the foreman that was supervising the work. The assistants were the community itself. It was a community job,” explained Chiran.

Ten houses were rebuilt with support from the Diocese in the communities of Las Pilas and Portoviejo, said Chiran. The diocese also created a solidarity loan program with the support of Episcopal Relief & Development. People applied for a moderate amount of money to start a small business and paid 50 percent of the amount in installments with no interest.

“There are people who lost their jobs and are still unemployed because the economy has barely been revived,” he said.

In Manta, it wasn’t until December 27, 2016, that the shopping center known as “New Tarqui” opened. The shopping center has 1,800 small commercial spaces, offering everything from food to clothing and footwear. “The shopping center turned out very well; it has given life to the area that was very deserted for a long time. Now there’s more movement,” said León.

Hope for the future

Just as in the rebuilding of the houses, the communities affected by the earthquake have learned that their lives can also be rebuilt with patience and with faith, brick by brick. “Personally, I saw a revival of faith. In the midst of the tragedy emerged hope and full faith in God,” said Chiran.

Chiran has requested an additional $20,000 to continue offering solidarity loans; he recognizes that up to now the loans offered have been small. He also shared enthusiastically that Episcopal Relief & Development has offered an education program in microfinance and how to manage a household economy. “We see that as a blessing because in the communities where we serve people don’t have many opportunities and it’s not just about offering a loan, but providing guidance about how to manage the small amount of money that can be lent to them,” he said.

— Clara Villatoro is a freelance journalist based in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Le Magazine Anglican : pourquoi tant de monde à Pâques et à Noël ?

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 9:48am

Pour écouter l’émission cliquer sur : http://frequenceprotestante.com/emission/magazine-anglican

Les chrétiens de toutes traditions ont fêté Pâques, le même jour, cette année. Temples et églises ont fait le plein, ce dimanche pascal.

Le Magazine Anglican s’interroge sur les raisons de cet afflux les jours de fête et plus largement, pourquoi on va à l’église.

Pour répondre à cette interrogation six témoignages ont été recueillis auprès de paroissiens de la Cathédrale Épiscopale de Paris. Ils expliquent comment ils sont venus à la Cathédrale et pourquoi ils continuent d’y venir régulièrement.

Face aux statistiques qui soulignent la baisse continue de fréquentation des églises en Europe et aux Etats-Unis, Anne –Marie Reijnen propose une approche qualitative de ce qui attire encore et toujours à l’église. Pour elle, c’est la possibilité de rencontrer autrui et de vivre pleinement sa Foi dans la liturgie, le dimanche et lors de périodes exceptionnelles comme le Carême.

Une liturgie magnifiée par la musique indique Denis Le Moullac, paroissien et choriste de longue date à la Cathédrale. Une liturgie diversifiée grâce aux trois services du dimanche que nous font découvrir Harriet Rivière, membre du Vestry et Laurence Moachon, animatrice de l’émission.

Mais de nos jours, exprimer sa Foi, peut aussi suivre d’autres voies que celle de la liturgie. La voie des œuvres caritatives pour les membres de la Junior Guild ou celle du culturel, comme l’explique Joanne Dauphin qui a créé le service des guides bénévoles à la Cathédrale, avant de prendre le chemin du diaconat.

Deux témoignages montrent à quel point l’église peut impacter des moments importants de la vie personnelle. C’est le cas de Jocelyn Phelps, épiscopalienne de souche, mais aussi de Mary Ellen Dolan, issue d’une famille irlandaise catholique.

Tous montrent, au delà de l’habitude, l’expérience profonde qui pousse à venir et revenir à l’église. Il n’en reste pas moins que l’église doit s’adapter à la vie actuelle et proposer de nouvelles manières « d’être église ».

Pour écouter l’émission cliquer sur : http://frequenceprotestante.com/emission/magazine-anglican

Le Magazine Anglican est diffusé, le 4e samedi du mois, à l’antenne parisienne de Fréquence Protestante. Via la radio numérique, chaque émission est accessible pendant six mois, aux auditeurs francophones d’Europe, d’Amérique, d’Afrique et d’Océanie.

Animé depuis 2012, par Laurence Moachon, paroissienne de la Cathédrale de la Sainte Trinité à Paris, le Magazine Anglican a pour objectif de mieux faire connaître la tradition anglicane / épiscopale.

L’Évêque Primat Michael Curry annonce la conclusion d’un Pacte pour le diocèse d’Haïti

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 7:12pm

[Le 24 avril 2017] Avec nos sincères remerciements à Dieu tout-puissant et une profonde gratitude pour les prières d’un si grand nombre de fidèles de toute l’Église, Michael B. Curry, l’Évêque Président et Primat de l’Église épiscopale, annonce un Pacte conclu entre l’Évêque d’Haïti, Mgr Jean Zaché Duracin, l’Évêque suffragant, Mgr Ogé Beauvoir, le Comité permanent et lui-même.

Le Pacte « vise à traiter et à résoudre un grand nombre de questions conflictuelles qui ont pesé sur le Diocèse », met fin à la pause sur les collectes de fonds de l’Église épiscopale et ouvre de nouvelles possibilités pour un avenir uni alors que le Diocèse se prépare à élire son prochain évêque diocésain en 2018.
Comme indiqué dans la lettre de l’Évêque Président aux parties (lettre partagée avec l’Église): « Le Pacte a entièrement réglé l’affaire du Titre III qui impliquait la relation entre Mgr Beauvoir et le Comité permanent du Diocèse. En outre, le Pacte, tout comme le Protocole d’accord [qui donne des directives aux partenariats de mission]… a entièrement réglé l’affaire du titre IV qui était en instance contre l’Évêque Duracin ».

L’Évêque Président célébrera la Sainte Eucharistie avec le clergé et les fidèles à Port-au-Prince le 23 mai. La liturgie comprendra la signature officielle du Pacte qui est maintenant en vigueur, ayant été signé par toutes les parties.

Dans sa lettre à Mgr Duracin, à Mgr Beauvoir et au Comité permanent, l’Évêque Président Curry a déclaré : « Ce Pacte vise à traiter et résoudre un grand nombre de questions conflictuelles qui ont pesé sur le Diocèse et ouvrir une voie à suivre saine et positive pour le Diocèse et la relation entre le Diocèse et l’ensemble de l’Église. Je suis reconnaissant à mes deux frères évêques ainsi qu’au Président et aux membres du Comité permanent pour leur volonté de parvenir à ce Pacte qui, je pense, sert la cause de notre Seigneur et Sauveur Jésus-Christ en Haïti dans la poursuite de la reconstruction et du renouveau suite au tremblement de terre et alors que le Diocèse d’Haïti se prépare à élire son nouvel Évêque diocésain ».

Il a ajouté : « Je suis satisfait de ces mesures car elles reflètent un engagement de la part de toutes les parties en faveur d’un travail continu de guérison et de réconciliation. Ceci n’aurait pas été possible sans les prières constantes des fidèles épiscopaliens d’Haïti et de toute l’Église. Et je sais que nous continuerons tous à prier pour le peuple haïtien, le Diocèse d’Haïti et le ministère du Seigneur Jésus-Christ ressuscité en Haïti et dans tous les pays de l’Église épiscopale.

Le Pacte en anglais et en français figure ici

Voici la lettre intégrale de l’Évêque Président :

Lundi de Pâques

Le 17 avril 2017

Mes frères et sœurs dans le Christ,

En cette semaine sainte commémorant la résurrection de notre Seigneur Jésus Christ, c’est avec sincère reconnaissance que je suis en mesure de partager avec vous la bonne nouvelle suivante. L’Évêque d’Haïti, l’Évêque suffragant d’Haïti, le Comité permanent du Diocèse d’Haïti et moi-même, votre Évêque Primat, avons conclu ensemble un Pacte.

Ce Pacte vise à traiter et résoudre un grand nombre de questions conflictuelles qui ont pesé sur le Diocèse et ouvrir une voie à suivre saine et positive pour le Diocèse et la relation entre le Diocèse et l’ensemble de l’Église. Je suis reconnaissant à mes deux frères évêques ainsi qu’au Président et aux membres du Comité permanent pour leur volonté de parvenir à ce Pacte qui, je pense, sert la cause de notre Seigneur et Sauveur Jésus-Christ en Haïti dans la poursuite de la reconstruction et du renouveau suite au tremblement de terre et alors que le Diocèse d’Haïti se prépare à élire son nouvel Évêque diocésain.

Le Pacte a entièrement réglé l’affaire du Titre III qui impliquait la relation entre l’Évêque suffragant Beauvoir et le Comité permanent du Diocèse. En outre, le Pacte ainsi que le Protocole d’accord (tous deux ci-joints) convenus entre l’Évêque Duracin et moi-même l’année passée, et les conversations pastorales entre l’Évêque Duracin et moi-même, ont entièrement réglé l’affaire du Titre IV qui était en instance contre l’Évêque Duracin. Je suis satisfait de ces mesures car elles reflètent un engagement de la part de toutes les parties en faveur d’un travail continu de guérison et de réconciliation.

Permettez-moi de vous dire comment nous sommes parvenus à ce point. Comme je l’ai annoncé le 1er décembre 2016, j’ai nommé un panel de trois personnes (le rév. Stephen T. Ruelle, Évêque du Maine, le rév. P. Roger Bowen et Paul B. Nix, Jr., conseiller juridique interne de DFMS à New York) pour étudier la situation (voir http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2016/12/01/presiding-bishop-releases-letter-about-the-diocese-of-haiti/). À la suite d’entretiens minutieux et d’écoute des deux évêques, du Comité permanent et d’un groupe du clergé identifié par l’Évêque Beauvoir comme ayant des préoccupations majeures, le panel a indiqué dans son rapport ce qui suit :

Ils ont tout d’abord signalé que quasiment toutes les personnes impliquées étaient profondément blessées par les choses que d’autres avaient dites et leur douleur était réelle et profonde. Malgré tout, les relations au sein du clergé sont généralement considérées comme « fondamentalement saines » . Le clergé a connu de graves tensions mais il semble qu’il y ait une volonté, voire même un fort désir de la part de bon nombre de membres du clergé d’essayer de parvenir à un règlement entre eux. Les membres du clergé travaillent entre eux depuis longtemps et leur engagement envers le Diocèse était évident.  Il y avait un sens général que de bonnes relations au sein du clergé pouvaient être restaurées avec un travail courageux et prudent. Il y avait également un sens partagé qu’il y a une tâche beaucoup plus importante à accomplir dans le Diocèse à laquelle il n’était pas prêté attention du fait de l’énergie dépensée par les litiges en cours et il y avait un empressement à s’attaquer à cette tâche.

Par opposition aux relations au sein du clergé, il est apparu aux yeux du grand nombre que la rupture de la relation entre les deux évêques était irrécupérable, pour le moins en ce moment crucial. Il y avait des preuves d’un profond manque de confiance entre les évêques, manifesté en partie par les nombreux rapports de leur échange ouvert d’insultes. L’état de leurs relations avait donné lieu à beaucoup de tristesse, de frustration et de colère, non pas seulement entre les évêques mais également entre les membres du clergé, certains d’entre eux ayant une allégeance vis-à-vis d’un évêque ou de l’autre, qui ressentent que cette lutte entre les évêques a jeté une ombre malsaine sur le fonctionnement du Diocèse.

Enfin, chaque groupe du clergé a fait part de ses profondes inquiétudes concernant l’exercice du pouvoir de l’un ou l’autre des évêques que chaque groupe pense ne pas servir les meilleurs intérêts du diocèse. Il y avait certaines préoccupations que l’Évêque Beauvoir, avant de prendre son congé, avait exercé son rôle d’Évêque suffragant sans pleinement apprécier les limites des pouvoirs de sa charge si bien que ses actions sapaient le bon ordre de l’Église. D’un autre côté, il y avait des preuves que l’Évêque Duracin n’avait pas apporté son soutien à l’épiscopat suffragant de l’Évêque Beauvoir, sur le plan financier et autre. Il y avait également des inquiétudes concernant le fait que l’Évêque Duracin exerçait son pouvoir de transfert du clergé au sein du Diocèse d’une manière qui était largement perçue comme récompensant ou punissant de façon indue ceux qui avaient ses faveurs ou ceux qui ne les avaient pas. Il y avait également une crainte que le processus à venir de l’élection d’un successeur à l’Évêque Duracin allait manquer d’intégrité en excluant les voix du clergé qui n’étaient pas en tous points alignées avec l’Évêque Duracin.

À la lumière de cette situation compliquée et navrante et avec toutes les meilleures espérances et prières en faveur d’une solution positive et tournée vers l’avenir pour la santé du Diocèse d’Haïti, j’ai proposé de conclure un Pacte entre l’Évêque Duracin, l’Évêque Beauvoir, le Comité permanent du Diocèse et moi-même. J’avais espoir que ce Pacte allait servir de base pour résoudre les procédures du Titre III et du Titre IV alors en instance et engager le Diocèse sur une voie saine pour l’élection épiscopale prochaine.

Après de profondes conversations et négociations, nous sommes maintenant parvenus à un Pacte avec lequel toutes les parties sont à l’aise et qui a à présent été signé par tout un chacun. Le texte du Pacte figure ci-après, tout comme le texte du Protocole d’accord qui offre un modèle pour nos partenariats caractérisé par l’égalité dans la prise de décision et la relation, par la transparence financière, par la responsabilité et la mutualité dans la mission, que ce soit en Haïti ou ailleurs dans l’Église épiscopale et au-delà. Grâce au Pacte et au Protocole d’accord à présent convenus et en place, la pause que j’avais placée sur la collecte de fonds pour Haïti est levée.

En dernier point, nous sommes convenus et avons signé le Pacte mais nous allons tous nous rassembler pour la signature liturgique officielle du Pacte dans le contexte de la Célébration de la Sainte Eucharistie le mardi 23 mai 2017 à 10h00 au Séminaire théologique épiscopal de Port-au-Prince en Haïti.

Je suis véritablement reconnaissant envers l’Évêque Duracin et l’Évêque Beauvoir, le clergé et les leaders laïcs du Diocèse d’Haïti et envers vous tous dans l’Église épiscopale qui avez prié et œuvré pour ce moment.

Que les bénédictions de notre Seigneur Jésus crucifié et ressuscité soient avec nous tous alors que nous avançons ensemble pour proclamer la Bonne Nouvelle dans le nouvel avenir de Dieu.

Votre frère,

+Michael

Presiding Bishop announces covenant agreement for the Diocese of Haiti

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 7:08pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] With profound thanks to Almighty God and with deep gratitude for the prayers of so many throughout the church, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry announces a covenant into which he, Bishop Jean Zache Duracin of Haiti, Bishop Suffragan Ogé Beauvoir, and the Standing Committee have entered.

The covenant “seeks to address and resolve many of the issues of conflict that have been burdening the Diocese,” brings an end to the pause on fundraising by the Episcopal Church and opens new possibilities for a united future as the diocese prepares to elect its next bishop diocesan in 2018.

As noted in the presiding bishop’s letter to the parties and shared with the Church, “The Covenant has entirely resolved the Title III matter that involved Suffragan Bishop Beauvoir’s relationship with the Standing Committee of the Diocese.  Further, the Covenant, together with the Memorandum of Understanding [providing guidance for mission partnerships]…fully resolved the Title IV matter that has been pending against Bishop Duracin.”

The presiding bishop will celebrate the Holy Eucharist with the clergy and people in Port-au-Prince May 23. The liturgy will include a formal signing of the covenant, which is now in effect, having been signed by all parties.

In his letter to Duracin,  Beauvoir, and the Standing Committee,  Curry said, “This Covenant seeks to address and resolve many of the issues of conflict that have been burdening the Diocese, and sets the stage for a healthy and positive way forward for the Diocese and the Diocese’s relationship with the larger Church.  I am grateful to both of my brother bishops and also the President and members of the Standing Committee for their willingness to reach a Covenant which I believe serves the cause of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in  Haiti for the continued rebuilding and renewal after the earthquake and as the Diocese of Haiti  prepares to elect its next Bishop Diocesan.”

He added, “I am pleased by these measures, as they reflect a commitment by all parties to the ongoing work of healing and reconciliation.  This would not have been possible without the steadfast prayers of faithful Episcopalians in Haiti and throughout the wider church. And I know we will all continue to pray for the people of Haiti, the Diocese of Haiti, and the ministry of risen Lord Jesus Christ there and in all of the countries of the Episcopal Church.”

The Covenant in English and French is here.

The Presiding Bishop’s letter in full follows:

Monday in Easter Week
April 17, 2017
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

During this holy season commemorating the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ it is with genuine thankfulness that I am able to share the following good news with you.  The  Bishop of Haiti, the Bishop Suffragan of Haiti the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Haiti and I as your Presiding Bishop have entered into a Covenant with one another.

This Covenant seeks to address and resolve many of the issues of conflict that have been burdening the Diocese, and sets the stage for a healthy and positive way forward for the Diocese and the Diocese’s relationship with the larger Church.  I am grateful to both of my brother bishops and also the President and members of the Standing Committee for their willingness to reach a Covenant which I believe serves the cause of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in  Haiti for the continued rebuilding and renewal after the earthquake and as the Diocese of Haiti  prepares to elect its next Bishop Diocesan.

The Covenant has entirely resolved the Title III matter that involved Suffragan Bishop Beauvoir’s relationship with the Standing Committee of the Diocese.  Further the Covenant, together with the Memorandum of Understanding (both attached)  reached by Bishop Duracin and myself last year, and pastoral conversations between Bishop Duracin and myself have fully resolved the Title IV matter that has been pending against Bishop Duracin.  I am pleased by these measures, as they reflect a commitment by all parties to the ongoing work of healing and reconciliation.

Let me tell you how we got to this point.  As I announced on December 1, 2016, I appointed a three-person panel (the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, Bishop of Maine; the Rev. P. Roger Bowen; and Paul B. Nix, Jr., Esquire, In-house Counsel for the DFMS in New York)  to investigate the situation. (See). After careful interviews and listening to both bishops, to the Standing Committee, and to a group of clergy identified by Bishop Beauvoir as having important concerns, the panel reported the following:

First, they reported that nearly everyone involved was deeply wounded by things that others have said, and their pain was real and deep.  Despite this, relationships among the clergy are generally regarded as “fundamentally sound.”  While the tensions among the clergy have been severe, there appeared to be a willingness and perhaps strong desire among many of the clergy to try to achieve resolution among them.  The clergy have worked with each other for a long time, and their commitment to the Diocese was evident.  There was a general sense that good relationships among the clergy can be recovered with courageous and careful work.  There was also a shared sense that there is much important work to do in the Diocese that is not being attended to because of the energy taken up by current disputes, and an eagerness to get on with that important work.

In contrast to the relationships among the clergy, it appeared to many that the brokenness of the relationship between the two bishops was not retrievable, at least at this crucial time.  There was evidence of a profound lack of trust between the bishops, manifested in part by multiple reports of their openly trading insults.  The state of their relationship had given rise to much sadness, frustration, and anger, not just between the bishops, but also among the clergy, some of whom may have loyalties to one bishop or the other, but who also sense that the struggle between the bishops has cast an unhealthy overlay to the functioning of the Diocese.

Finally, each clergy group expressed deep concerns about the exercise of authority of one or the other of the bishops, which each group believed is not serving the best interests of the Diocese.  There were concerns that Bishop Beauvoir, before taking his leave of absence, exercised his role as Suffragan Bishop without a full appreciation of the limits of the authority of that office, such that his actions undermined the good order of the Church.  On the other hand, there was evidence that Bishop Duracin has failed to support Bishop Beauvoir’s suffragan episcopate, financially and otherwise.  There were also concerns that Bishop Duracin exercises his authority to transfer clergy around the Diocese in ways that are widely perceived as improperly rewarding or punishing those he favors or disfavors.  There was also a fear that the upcoming process to elect a successor to Bishop Duracin will lack integrity by excluding the voices of clergy who are not in all ways aligned with Bishop Duracin.

In the light of this complicated and heartbreaking situation, and with all the best hope and prayers for a positive, forward-looking outcome for the health of the Diocese of Haiti, I proposed a Covenant to be entered into by Bishop Duracin, Bishop Beauvoir, the Standing Committee of the Diocese, and myself.  It was my hope that this Covenant would provide the basis for resolving the Title III and Title IV proceedings then pending, and would set a course for a healthy Diocese and upcoming episcopal election.

After deep conversations and negotiation, we have now reached a Covenant with which all parties are comfortable, and that everyone has now signed.  The text of the Covenant is found below, as is the text of the Memorandum of Understanding which provides a template for our partnerships characterized by equality in decision making and relationship, financial transparency, accountability and mutuality in mission whether in Haiti, elsewhere in the Episcopal Church or beyond.  With the Covenant and the Memorandum of Understanding now agreed to and in place the pause that I placed on fund raising for Haiti is lifted.

Lastly, while the Covenant has been agreed to and signed by us all, we will all come together for the formal liturgical signing of the Covenant in the context of the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 10:00 am  at the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Port Au Prince, Haiti.

I am truly thankful for Bishop Duracin and Bishop Beauviour, the clergy and lay leaders of the Diocese of Haiti and for all throughout the Episcopal Church who have prayed and worked for this moment.

May the blessings of the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus be with us all as we go forward together to proclaim the Good News into God’s new future.

Your brother,

+Michael

The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Women’s mentoring is focus of Thailand gathering

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 12:09pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Eighteen women theologians from Africa and Asia began a journey of reflection and action around the theme “Women’s Mentoring for Ecumenical Leadership” in a consultation April 20-22 in Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting was convened by the World Council of Churches Department on Ecumenical Theological Education and supported by the Foundation for Theological Education in Southeast Asia.

Full article.

Former Virginia Tech chaplain looks to massacre’s aftermath for lessons in healing

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 5:04pm

The Rev. Scott Russell, an Episcopal chaplain at Rutgers University, speaks April 21 about his experience as a campus minister during the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech. He spoke at a workshop at the Bishops United Against Gun Violence conference in Chicago. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Chicago, Illinois] When a gunman opened fire killing 28 fellow students, four professors and himself 10 years ago on the campus of Virginia Tech, word of the massacre reached the Rev. Scott Russell through a news broadcast.

Terrifying details were being reported on the TVs at JFK International Airport in New York City. Russell, in airport customs after returning from vacation in Germany, was paralyzed as he learned of developments in Blacksburg, Virginia, where he was the associate rector at Christ Episcopal Church and campus minister.

“I’m standing there frozen in front of the TV screen,” Russell recalled. He canceled plans to visit an uncle in New York City and instead drove several hours home to be with students and parishioners, helping them cope with the aftermath of unthinkable tragedy.

Russell, 49, shared those experiences April 21 with attendees of “Unholy Trinity: The Intersection of Racism, Poverty and Gun Violence,” a three-day conference held by Bishops United Against Gun Violence at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. His workshop also focused on how communities recover from such tragedies and the role of faith leaders in helping survivors and victims’ families and friends heal.

“There was much confusion and panic,” Russell, now a chaplain at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, told the handful of people who attended his first workshop at the conference.

When he arrived back in Blacksburg, Christ Episcopal Church parishioners welcomed him in tears. He met and prayed with the students who frequented the congregation’s Episcopal student center, and he began helping them process their thoughts: What do we do now? Where do we go from here? The university’s candlelight vigil, held the day after the rampage, helped unite the campus community.

“What a way to say to these people in shock, don’t isolate yourself. Come together,” Russell said during the workshop, noting that the large crowd attending the vigil at one point erupted spontaneously in the school’s football chant.

But emotions were still raw. One of the Episcopal students knew five classmates and two professors killed in classrooms. “She was just beside herself, just thinking she easily could have been in one of those classes,” Russell said.

The nonstop news coverage didn’t help the grieving process, he said. Many of those affected by the massacre grew to resent the media presence, finding it intrusive, and they were relieved when, in time, coverage of one of the country’s deadliest mass shootings dropped off the front pages.

Even out of the national spotlight, Blacksburg faced challenges in coming to grips with what had happened, and one of the underlying messages of Russell’s presentation was that some of the hardest lessons for him and the 30 or so other chaplains focused on how survivors deal with grief at their own pace. That is something chaplains and ministers need to consider when providing pastoral care, Russell said.

The university canceled classes the week after the massacre, and some students traveled home to be with their families. When they returned, many of them were ready to move on, but others who had stayed were still in the deepest stages of grief, Russell said.

“As a pastor, I have to help where they are,” he told Episcopal News Service in an earlier telephone interview.

He also learned to appreciate that some people grieve in ways that may at first seem shocking. He told of confronting one student at the Canterbury House next to the church who could be heard playing a first-person shooter video game. Another student told Russell he was having a hard time sleeping because he still felt pressure in his graduate studies but was preoccupied with the massacre.

In both cases, Russell said, he talked with the students about how they were dealing with the trauma and made sure to follow up with more conversation so they knew they weren’t alone.

Russell and other chaplains also learned that mass shootings can bring a thicket of opposing views to navigate. Some students and faculty members who hadn’t been comfortable with the prevalence of guns before the Virginia Tech massacre felt their opposition to guns hardening, Russell said, but a few students’ views moved in the opposite direction, in favor of concealed carry permits and allowing students to take guns to class for protection.

The Rev. Scott Russell describes tensions in Blacksburg, Virginia, over whether to include Cho Seung-Hui when listing the victims of the massacre. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

As in other mass shootings, another polarizing subject was the gunman himself. Cho Seung-Hui, 23, was a Virginia Tech senior with a history of mental illness who had made suicidal remarks to roommates in the past.

At Christ Episcopal Church after the shooting, the names of the victims were read at services. Cho had been a student of one of the parishioners, and she asked that his name be included. At one service, that spark strong objections from another parishioner, who was appalled that Cho would be memorialized in the same way as his victims, Russell said. Some survivors prefer to never mention the gunman, while others want to understand why he turned violent.

Russell was careful to acknowledge these individual differences but also tried to frame the question as one of faith values.

“In the Episcopal and Anglican tradition, we pray for those who have died,” Russell said during his presentation. “Do we discriminate for what they have done?”

Tension over that question continued that year. Russell preached a sermon in the fall about forgiveness, alluding to Cho and the massacre. A student approached him afterward outraged, but it is a message that Russell wanted parishioners to hear.

Clergy, too, need support in the aftermath of such high-profile shootings. Russell said he and fellow ministers were provided counseling, including through assistance from Episcopal Relief & Development.

The scars of April 16, 2007, may never heal fully. The memories of that day came flooding back for Russell when he learned of the shooting last year at an Orlando nightclub, where a gunman killed 49 and injured 53.

Russell left Blacksburg in 2013 and became a rector at a congregation near Pittsburgh, the city where he was ordained in 2002. He still felt called to campus ministry, though, and eagerly accepted the chaplain job at Rutgers last year. This week, he attended services at Virginia Tech to mark 10 years since the massacre.

Russell attended ceremonies this month in Blacksburg, Virginia, marking 10 years since the killings. Photo: Scott Russell

His experience at Virginia Tech has left him sensitive to potential threats, aware that senseless violence could break out at any time. It also has helped define his sense of mission as a Christian and as a university chaplain

“I encourage people to never forget to look to those who are being left out, those who are on the margins – not just because they might become violent, but because that’s where, I believe, in many ways our primary work is,” Russell told ENS. “I’m always reminded Christ preached to the margins.”

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

Task group developing deeper links and wider understanding

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 10:47am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Task Group set up by last year’s Primates’ gathering has been meeting in London this week with the emphasis on understanding diversity within the Anglican Communion – and recognizing the many areas of unity.

Full article.

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