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Updated: 1 hour 57 min ago

Presiding Bishop, House of Deputies president on DACA

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 1:07pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings have issued the following statement concerning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Today our hearts are with those known as the Dreamers—those young women and men who were brought to this country as children, who were raised here and whose primary cultural and country identity is American. We believe that these young people are children of God and deserve a chance to live full lives, free from fear of deportation to countries that they may have never known and whose languages they may not speak. As people of faith, our obligation is first to the most vulnerable, especially to children. In this moment, we are called by God to protect Dreamers from being punished for something they had no agency in doing.

Since 2012, individuals who are undocumented and who were brought to the U.S. as children have benefitted from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Through this program, those eligible have the opportunity to obtain a work permit and can secure protection from deportation. The nearly 800,000 recipients of DACA have proven that when given the opportunity, they succeed and contribute positively to our country. Without protection afforded by DACA or a legislative solution, these young people will live in fear of arrest, detention, and deportation to countries they may not remember. In six months those fears may become reality, so we must use that time wisely to advocate for their protection.

The Episcopal Church supports these undocumented youth as part of our decades-long commitment to walking with immigrants and refugees. Out of that commitment, we call on our nation to live up to its highest ideals and most deeply held values, and we call on Congress to take action to protect these young people and to formulate a comprehensive immigration policy that is moral and consistent and that allows immigrants who want to contribute to this country the chance to do so while keeping our borders secure from those whose business is in drugs, human trafficking or terror. We are committed to working actively toward both the passage of a bipartisan Dream Act by Congress and comprehensive immigration reform, and we will provide resources for Episcopalians who want to participate in this work.

For those of us who follow Jesus Christ, our Christian values are at stake. Humane and loving care for the stranger, the alien, and the foreigner is considered a sacred duty and moral value for those who would follow the way of God. In his parable of the last judgment, Jesus commended those who welcomed the stranger and condemned those who did not (Matthew 25:35 & 25:43). This teaching of Jesus was based on the law of Moses that tells the people of God: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-35).

We stand with the Dreamers and will do all that we can to support them while we also work for the kind of immigration reform that truly reflects the best of our spiritual and moral values as people of faith and as citizens of the United States.

-The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop and primate, and The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies

Episcopalians leading a movement for public education equity

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 6:30am

[All Our Children, National Network] Registration is open for All Our Children: The Church’s Role in Education Equity, a national conference co-sponsored by the All Our Children National Network and The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The event will take place January 16-18, 2018 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Columbia, South Carolina.

The conference, which was called for in a resolution passed at the 78th General Convention in 2015, is an invitation to the Episcopal Church and all Christians to address the urgency of quality public education for all children. “This conference will mark the boldest action yet taken to undergird the Episcopal Church’s resolutions in support of public education, and it will provide an opportunity for our impact to ripple out exponentially,” says All Our Children Director Lallie Lloyd. “Today, more than 16 million children in the United States live in poverty. It is not news to say that they are not being well-served at school. They need more, and we can do better. We can serve students with acts of charity and we can join with others for collective action that brings systemic change,” she says.

The mission of the event is to equip and inspire lay and ordained church leaders, seminarians, and volunteers to take effective action for education equity in their communities, through local partnerships, and in the broader public arena through advocacy. The conference will feature keynote addresses from the Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Jeff Duncan-Andrade, Ph.D., a classroom teacher, school leader, and associate professor of education at San Francisco State University. Other programming will include informative, interactive workshops and plenaries led by practicing educators, experienced community leaders, and hands-on researchers and highlight specific steps congregations and their members can take to build Beloved Community through local partnerships, action, and service.

Participants can expect to:

  • Develop a deep understanding of Christian faith foundations for public education support, engagement, and advocacy;
  • Build awareness of necessary conditions for and barriers to quality public education for all, specifically the correlations between race, income, and education opportunity;
  • Understand policies, practices, and principles of successful church-school community partnerships;
  • Develop specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed action plans, coordinated by city, diocese, or state, when possible; and
  • Generate a list of the skills, support, and training participants desire to strengthen their partnerships.

When asked why Episcopalians should join the movement for education equity, Don Cowles, a member of the conference planning committee and a founding member of the All Our Children leadership team answered, “Faith communities that follow Jesus into neighborhood schools offer the caring, personal relationships that can remind students that they are loved while simultaneously confronting the social justice implications of concentrated poverty and other inequities.”

To learn more or to register for All Our Children: The Church’s Role in Education Equity visit aoc2018.org.

About All Our Children, National Network
All Our Children believes partnering with public schools is an urgent mission for people of faith. We know partnerships between congregations and schools are an effective path to address racism and economic inequity; serve communities; and revitalize congregations. We are part of the movement to improve the quality of public education for all children. For congregations with active partnerships we connect leaders and volunteers to form a community of hope, encouragement, and relationships. By fostering this community, creating materials and hosting events we shorten the learning curve for those starting the journey. Learn more at allourchildren.org

Episcopalians labor on to help Hurricane Harvey-hit Gulf Coast

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 5:56pm

Volunteers at Trinity by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Port Aransas, Texas, sort donations on Aug. 31. The church is serving as a staging ground for recovery workers in the town that is near where Hurricane Harvey made landfall. Photo: Jennifer Wickham via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] The rest of the United States might be headed into the three-day Labor Day weekend with thoughts of picnics and beaches, but Episcopalians along the Harvey-hit Gulf Coast will be working to clean up the damage and begin to put their lives, and the lives of their neighbors, back together.

That work comes a week after Harvey developed into a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Rockport, Texas, on the barrier islands beyond Corpus Christi shortly before 10 p.m. CDT Aug. 25. Harvey then moved over Copano Bay and made landfall again, this time as a Category 3 hurricane.

After moving east and submerging the Houston area under nearly 52 inches of rain, a weakened Harvey wobbled back out over the gulf and then returned to land on Aug. 30, hitting again near Cameron, Louisiana.

The New York Times reported Sept. 1 that at least 46 deaths were related to, or suspected to be related to, the storm. That number could still rise.

The remnants of Harvey, now classified by the National Hurricane Center as Post-Tropical Cyclone Harvey, are moving northeastward across the Ohio Valley and pushing as much as 1 to 6 inches of rain into Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.

Harvey’s rainfall totals as of 5 p.m. EDT Sept. 1 are here.

“All of the churches in the Diocese of West Texas are standing strong,” said the diocese on whose southern portion Harvey made its first two U.S. landfalls on Aug. 25. “There is damage, which is to be expected after a direct hit from such a large storm. Much of the damage includes fallen and broken trees and limbs, as well as large amounts of debris that were distributed with the 100+ mph winds and the storm surges.”

The churches across the diocese are “doing what they are supposed to be doing,” the statement said. “They are responding and issuing calls to action by making numerous hygiene kits and beginning to gather and organize volunteer efforts.”

In Port Aransas, Texas, Trinity by the Sea Episcopal Church, with its parish hall and church in relatively good shape, has become a gathering point for volunteers before they go out in neighborhoods. Once there, they are helping survivors clean up massive amounts of debris from their properties and ruined items from their homes and businesses.

One volunteer, Eddie Roberson, said other folks “are out in droves providing free food and everything imaginable to help all of us working.”

“A beautiful ray of hope in a place that desperately needs it,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “God Bless us all!”

Roberson said it is hard to navigate through Port Aransas because most of the street signs are missing. “Be prepared, the devastation is unreal. The working conditions beyond the heat zaps your energy fast,” he wrote. “The mildew, humidity and heat from the sun make for a very humbling experience even for the most in-shape individual.”

Volunteers need to have good gloves, cool clothing, baby wipes, mosquito spray and a lot of water, Roberson suggested.

 

Jennifer Wickham, who lives in Corpus Christi where her husband is rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, is helping coordinate volunteers at Trinity. “We were overwhelmed at several times today, not only by the generosity of volunteers who came to help, but also by the sheer volume of people bringing truckloads of supplies,” she said in an update late on Aug. 31.

The outpouring is wonderful, she wrote, but “it is becoming clear that the storage of donations will quickly become a challenge — not only for us, but also from many of the grassroots organizations working in the community.” The few places in town that are clean and secure are filling with large deliveries of supplies, and some groups have even begun to turn donations away.

“But this is not because we have enough items,” wrote Wickham, who is also the development coordinator for Saint Vincent Centre for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. “It is simply a reality that there are not enough places to put all of the things we need.”

Thus, Wickham suggested that people donate in just one of two ways: labor and money.

“I am exhausted, but amazed by the people, resources, and love that keep pouring in,” the Rev. James Derkits, Trinity by the Sea’s rector, said in West Texas’ update.

Derkits, his wife, Laura, and their family had to relocate when they discovered after Harvey that the storm destroyed the nearby rectory. They hope to move back to Port Aransas into a friend’s condominium once power is restored, he told Episcopal News Service.

Meanwhile, Trinity will have two services on Sept. 3.

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rockport, Texas, near where Harvey made landfall, sustained minor damage. Photo: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church via Facebook

In nearby Rockport, Texas, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church sustained minor damage. The congregation used its Facebook page to check on its members.

St. Peter’s state is unusual. Rockport Mayor Charles Wax estimated that 30 to 40 percent of the town’s houses and businesses were destroyed, and another 30 percent are so damaged that they will need to be demolished.

A parishioner of St. James Episcopal Church and School in Alexandria, Louisiana, Babs Leggett is worried about Trinity Episcopal Church in Galveston, Texas, where she and her husband, Jim Leggett III, attend when vacationing and visiting family. Leggett is on the church’s email list, and she received an email warning people that there would be no Sunday service on Sept. 3.

“It’s like a second home to us,” Leggett told Episcopal News Service. Her cousins were away from their Houston home when Harvey hit, and their house sitter had to evacuate to a hotel with their cat. They still don’t know how their home fared, Leggett said. The Leggetts plan to send a check to help the parish recover. “We’re just grieving for what’s happening next door. We went through it with Katrina, and it’s unbelievably challenging.”

 

As the barrier island towns near Corpus Christi pick of the pieces, Episcopalians in Houston are helping their neighbors in that waterlogged city.

Harvey survivors are finding food, cleaning supplies, underwear and more at Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services, a ministry of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany. ECHOS helped 104 families on Aug. 31.

“Virtually all of them needed cleaning supplies, food, diapers, baby formula and other staples for their homes,” the agency said in an emailed update. “Each of them had a story to tell. … Most who walked in our doors today lost everything. Some had damaged apartments. All have been traumatized. For many, it will take months for life to go back to normal. For others, it will be a new normal.”

ECHOS will host what it is calling a Disaster Relief Food Fair on Sept. 2. Ten pallets of water and disaster relief food kits will be available. Bee Busy Wellness Center will have a nurse practitioner onsite to provide health assessments.

And, because relief work needs fuel, a local Starbucks delivered donated coffee on Aug. 31 for ECHOS workers and clients.

 

“These days of disaster have also been marked by many occasions of grace,” the Very Rev. Barkley Thompson, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Houston, wrote in a Sept. 1 Facebook post.

The most recent example of that grace, he said, was the Rev. Steve Wells, the pastor of South Main Baptist Church, and his congregation delivering shoes to the Beacon. The Beacon is a cathedral ministry that offers homeless people daily services, civil legal aid, counseling and mentoring, and access to housing. The facility still has no power, Thompson said, “but as soon as we are able to reopen, every homeless woman or man who enters the door with waterlogged shoes will be able to receive a new pair. What a phenomenal act of generosity.”

Thompson is helping to coordinate the rectors of Houston’s largest Episcopal churches to respond in the recovery effort. He noted on Aug. 31 that “this work is in no way restricted to the Episcopal Church,” citing Wells, along with the Rev. Tommy Williams of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and Rabbi Oren Hayon of Temple Emanu El.

“I’m humbled and blessed to witness the faith community in action,” he wrote. “For those who say the world would be better off without the church, I say visit Houston.”

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rockport, Texas, near where Harvey made landfall, sustained minor damage. Photo: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church via Facebook

Many congregations will be taking up special collections on Sept. 3 for the work of Episcopal Relief & Development. Individual donations can be made here.

The organization, in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, is responding to the immediate needs of people in the Greater Houston area, including Galveston. That support will help the diocese provide temporary housing for 50 families, recruit volunteers to help clean out homes and deploy trained, spiritual care teams to reach out to people evacuated to the George R. Brown Convention Center and in other hard-hit areas.

Those teams are also distributing gift cards to help with purchasing food, basic supplies and necessities. The organization said its U.S. Disaster Program staff is in regular contact with the affected dioceses in Texas and Louisiana.

“Our church partners are providing critical assistance and caring for their neighbors in the aftermath of this devastating storm,” said Robert W. Radtke, president of Episcopal Relief & Development. “I am deeply grateful to them and to our community of faithful supporters for their compassion and enormous generosity.”

At the Diocese of Western Louisiana office, Holly Davis, communications missioner, said she was without power and cell phone service for most of Aug. 30 but was back to work by Sept. 1. So far, she had no reports of flooding at the diocesan churches.

Dee Drell, senior warden at St. James Episcopal Church in Alexandria, which is northeast of Lake Charles and in the center of the state, said his and Leggett’s church will do a special offering for relief efforts Sept. 3.

Louisiana’s mega-shelter in Alexandria is filling up with flood victims, Leggett said. More than 1,100 evacuees filled the 2,500 beds by the evening of Aug. 31, according to The Town Talk newspaper. “And now we’re expecting the shelter to overflow with people coming in from Lake Charles,” said Leggett, who’s also a part-time TV news producer.

Across the Diocese of Louisiana, Episcopalians are remembering the generosity of the wider church after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and they are responding by collecting supplies and money. The diocese’s Facebook page is filled with such notices.

The Rev. Deacon Elaine G. Clements, the Louisiana diocesan disaster coordinator, reiterated the warning, however, to keep it simple and stick to monetary donations for now, unless there is a personal relationship with someone on the ground in the most affected areas.

“Two days ago, Houston needed diapers; now they are overflowing with diapers. Distribution and storage is a nightmare. So, money to Episcopal Relief & Development and gift cards [to local churches] are the way to go,” Clements told Episcopal News Service.

 

Still, some churches are trying to donate material goods. Christ Church in Covington, Louisiana, has given 100 blankets to a shelter Houston. The donation started when a friend texted the Rev. William Miller: “I had to tell 300 people that we were out of blankets. If you could have seen the look in their eyes…”

Miller, the church’s rector, writes here about the quest that followed. The Rev. Scott Painter, curate at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Houston and Miller’s friend, found his way to a Costco store that had just reopened and that had blankets. He texted photos of the options and Miller had him buy 100, sending him a check. Painter delivered them to NRG Stadium, where 10,000 people were expected by the end of that day.

“In the grand scheme of relief efforts, in a swampy region spread out over a vast territory with 6 million inhabitants, 100 blankets delivered to one shelter probably won’t make much of a difference,” Miller wrote. “But for the 100 people at the shelter who end up with one, it might make some difference. And you and I can each make some difference. Together, we can make a big difference.”

Previous ENS coverage of Hurricane Harvey is here.

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service. Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service, as well as a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York.

Interfaith Leaders to President Trump and Congress: Support Dreamers, keep DACA in place

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 1:02pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Washington] In response to growing concerns about President Trump’s consideration of discontinuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, archbishop of Washington; the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, senior rabbi of Washington Hebrew Congregation; and Imam Talib M. Shareef of Masjid Muhammad, The Nation’s Mosque, have published the following open letter to President Trump and Congressional leaders.

Dear Mr. President and Congressional Leaders:

As leaders of the three Abrahamic faiths, we look to our sacred texts and traditions in seeking to follow the way of peace. Our respective teachings are clear, and we speak with one voice when we say: supporting the dreams of young immigrants in the United States is consistent with the foundational values of our nation, and with the moral imperative of extending hospitality to the stranger, of caring for immigrants and children, and of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Nearly one million young immigrants have benefitted from the DACA program since its inception in 2012. Among that number, many of the program recipients are members of our respective faith communities, as well as the communities we mentor, in and around the nation’s capital. We have witnessed firsthand the relief and pride in our young people’s faces as they finally came to feel validated and safe by participating in a program that made them feel more at home-in the only country they have ever considered home. But now, anxiety and fear for their futures has returned.

We note that DACA has widespread support across the country and among politicians who agree on little else, for good reason. DACA has dramatically improved the lives of these young people and the communities in which they live:

• 95% of DACA participants are working or attending school;
• 68% of those working have seen their pay increase and thus are paying higher taxes;
• 50% now have driver’s licenses, which makes the roads safer for everyone;
• 54% have purchased their first car; and
• 12% have purchased their first home.

Rescinding DACA would have widespread, devastating impact not only on a generation of industrious young people, but also on their families, communities, and our society as a whole. Thus we add our voices to those urging you, Mr. President, to keep this policy in place until Congress puts in place a permanent solution.

It is our collective prayer that in the coming months, Congressional leaders work together to pass sensible and comprehensive immigration reform that our country so desperately needs, including making the DACA program permanent. But until that time comes, the least that our country can do is to continue supporting our dreamers. Keep DACA in place, Mr. President.

Faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig
Senior Rabbi of Washington Hebrew Congregation

Imam Talib M. Shareef
Masjid Muhammad, The Nation’s Mosque

His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington

Bishop of Polynesia addresses festivalgoers in England on climate change

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 9:47am

[Anglican Taonga] Archbishop Winston Halapua of Polynesia has taken his concerns about climate justice and his moana theology message to a new stage – to the immaculate grounds of a stately hall in the English midlands. He’d been invited by the United Society Partners in the Gospel (USPG) to be their keynote speaker at the Greenbelt Festival, which was held in the grounds of Boughton House. The Greenbelt Festival has been a British fixture for more than four decades and its organisers say their mission is “to create spaces, like festivals, where art, faith and justice collide.”

Read the full article here.

 

Christ​ ​Church​ ​Greenwich​ ​announces​ ​Interim​ ​Rector John H. Branson

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 5:43am

The public is invited to meet the Rev. John H. Branson at the Great Fall Festival on September 17.

[Christ Church Greenwich, Greenwich, CT] The Rev. John H. Branson will be the Interim Rector of Christ Church Greenwich, effective Sept. 2, 2017, as announced by the Wardens and Vestry of the historic Greenwich church today.

“John Branson will be with Christ Church Greenwich during a period of transition over the next year as we search for our new tenured rector. The transition process is a time of great energy and growth for us as we expand programs and hire new staff,” says Randy Schwimmer, Senior Warden. “We look forward to John’s stewardship during this vibrant period in our community.”

Branson joins Christ Church clergy members the Rev. Jennifer Owen, the Rev. Suzanne M. Culhane, and the Rev. Terence Elsberry.

“We invite everyone to meet John at the Great Fall Festival, our program year kick-off event on Sunday September 17 at 10:00 am,” said Junior Warden, George Belshaw. “The Great Fall Festival is a joyous, informal occasion for parish families and newcomers to enjoy fellowship, food, and family fun, including bouncy castles and crafts, and learn about our many offerings including outreach, youth, and our renowned choir program.”

John Branson and his wife Judyth come to Christ Church Greenwich from North Carolina after many years of ministry in the Episcopal Church. They have one daughter who resides in Westport, CT with her family.

Branson was the Rector of Christ & Holy Trinity in Westport for 21 years during which he helped grow the parish significantly, including overseeing the capital campaign for the addition of the Great Hall in downtown Westport. During this time he was also a board member of the United Way of Westport-Weston and A Better Chance of Westport. Branson has been actively involved in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, including being the board chair of Camp Washington, the official camp and conference center of the Diocese.

Since retiring in 2012, he has served as the Interim Rector at The Church of the Holy Spirit in Lake Forest, Illinois, at Historic Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, and at the Chapel of the Cross, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A native of Concord, NH, he graduated from Yale Divinity School and was ordained in 1974.

Christ Church Greenwich is one of New England’s oldest and largest Episcopal churches. Established as a parish in 1749, it is a lively community of faith composed of people with diverse backgrounds and spiritual journeys. Often billed as the “Cathedral” of Greenwich, Christ Church Greenwich offers opportunities for worship, celebration, music, youth and adult education, outreach, fellowship, and pastoral care.

Christ Church Greenwich is also the home of the Courage & Faith speaker series, Christ Church Music, the Christ Church Bookstore, and Christ Church Nursery School. The historic ten acre campus and facilities benefit the greater Greenwich community by hosting thousands of meetings, concerts, and events every year, and housing vital community service programs including Alcoholics Anonymous and Neighbor to Neighbor.

The mission of Christ Church Greenwich is to seek and serve God in all persons, and to provide spiritual nourishment for all who journey to find a sacred home for worship, personal growth, service, and community.

For more information about Christ Church Greenwich please visit christchurchgreenwich.org.

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For additional information, please contact Maria Olson Goins, Director of Marketing & Communications, mgoins@christchurchgreenwich.org.

Summering Episcopalians love their seasonal chapels

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 2:35pm

St. Elisabeth’s Chapel by the Sea near the Atlantic Ocean in Ortley Beach, New Jersey, has been housed in two different buildings since its founding. Superstorm Sandy destroyed the 1885 chapel, and nearly five years later, on July 23, 2017, the congregation dedicated its new building. Photo: St. Elisabeth’s Chapel by the Sea

[Episcopal News Service] They have clergy every Sunday, but few have a priest to call their own. Most are only open for a few weeks, but some meet every Sunday of the year. Most Episcopalians have never set foot in one, but for those who have worshipped in them for years, they are imprinted on their faith journeys.

They have been compared to Brigadoon, the mysterious Scottish village that legend says appears for only one day every 100 years. However, the summer chapels of the Episcopal Church, most with three months or less of seasonal life, have far more staying power.

For more than a century, these often-small buildings have weathered changes in church attendance and vacation trends. They evoke an era when people decamped from the heat of the city to “summer” in the natural beauty of the countryside, preferably near a body of water, large or small.

Far away from their winter church homes, Episcopalians pooled their money and built chapels in those summer enclaves. The chapels have a deep hold on generations of summering families. Many people, along with some newcomers, mark the major passages of their lives in the chapels: baptisms, weddings, even memorial funerals.

Most chapels were built at a time when people walked to church. For instance, in a 22-mile stretch of New Jersey Shore towns, there are five summer chapels along with eight year-round congregations. Over the years, some chapels have grown into year-round congregations.

Regardless of their deep hold on some Episcopalians’ faith lives, the chapels have tenuous – and varied – relationships with the dioceses in which they exist. Some chapels are held by private trusts, some are incorporated, some are associated with Episcopal summer camps, some are missions of nearby year-round congregations. Very few file the annual Parochial Report required of year-round congregations. Most have no formal list of members because most of the Episcopalians who worship in them officially belong to other congregations. Some dioceses prevent seasonal chapels from formally enrolling members.

Thus, an accurate count of their number and attendance is hard to come by. Kirk Hadaway, the since-retired Episcopal Church officer for congregational research, compiled a list in 2015 of known seasonal chapels. It held the names of 85 such chapels, but he acknowledged that there might be more. The list ranged from St. Francis of the Mountains in South Lake Tahoe, California, and St. Hubert the Hunter in Bondurant, Wyoming, to some in the Midwest and a long chain of chapels lining the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to Florida.

The Episcopal Chapel of the Transfiguration, built in 1925 very near Grand Teton National Park and now a part of St. John’s Episcopal Church 15 miles away in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, held an eclipse service on Aug. 18. Afterward, the congregation went outside to witness the 2:20 minutes of totality. The 65-seat chapel offers two Eucharists each Sunday in summer. St John’s also has a summer Sunday service at the Chapel of St. Hubert the Hunter in Bondurant, 35 miles from Jackson. Photo: St. John’s Episcopal Church

The chapel with the newest building on that list is, arguably, St. Elisabeth’s Chapel, just steps from the Atlantic Ocean in Ortley Beach, New Jersey. Nearly five years after Superstorm Sandy swept the chapel off its moorings, across Barnegat peninsula and into the bay during the night of Oct. 29, 2012, the congregation has rebuilt. New Jersey Bishop Williams “Chip” Stokes dedicated that $1.2 million building this past July.

“When the chapel went down, we all mourned the loss and realized that we couldn’t mourn too long because we had to rebuild,” Senior Warden Dennis Bellars said.

The old chapel sat about 70 people; the new cedar-lined building can hold 120 comfortably, according to Bellars. The altar furniture and the pews are new. The bishop’s chair, which was found wedged in Ortley Beach’s wreckage, has been restored. Bellars even found an antique bell for the new steeple that was made in 1885, the year St. Elisabeth’s was founded.

The congregation combined the proceeds of a capital campaign with its insurance settlement from the lost chapel and added some congregational savings to finance the project that began in 2015. A member of the summer congregation pledged the largest individual amount to the effort. (While St. Elisabeth’s is classified as a summer chapel, it is open for worship all year. It averaged 40 people per Sunday during the 2016-2017 winter months.)

“The neighborhood is very, very pleased to have us back,” Bellars said, although he joked that he worries about the loudness of the “new” old bell.

Seasonal chapels “fill a need for the summer people to worship in an Episcopal service,” Bellars said.

 

“The people that go to summer chapels are really faithful,” said Stokes. “They understand that God doesn’t take a vacation.” Returning to their chapel every summer “is the way by which they keep up the rhythm of their faith lives and stay connected to their life in Jesus Christ, and remain connected to a community that they’ve been part of, for many of them, since they were children.”

“You walk into some of these places and that comes through loud and clear,” Stokes said. “That’s really quite special.”

Sometimes, the seasonal opening of a summer chapel means even local Episcopalians will choose to worship there. Their move can cause attendance and, sometimes, giving to dip at nearby full-year churches. While recognizing that this can be a bit disruptive and might raise the question of the best use of resources, Stokes sees “health, vitality and life” in the seasonal communities and in their neighboring churches.

“Some people discover Jesus when they see these pretty churches and chapels and maybe wander in during the summer,” he said. “What a nice thing, what a grace-filled thing.”

Stokes, whose family used to vacation in Bay Head, New Jersey, and did believe that “God took a vacation in the summer,” remembers pedaling his bike past All Saints Episcopal Church and hearing the hymns coming from what was then a summer chapel. The chapel, founded in 1888, became a year-round congregation in the mid-1980s.

Episcopalians in the pews are not the only ones for whom summer chapels are a tradition. Many priests – and their families – look forward to coming back for a few weeks each season to serve the congregations. Plus, along with taking the services and being available for pastoral care, they get vacation in popular, scenic spots.

Stokes recalls earlier in his ministry when he spent nine years with his wife, Susan, and their family opening the season at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Harbor Springs, Michigan. Stokes explained that the seasonal position, which came with a stipend and a house, provided a “respite” for his family, which then included his wife, four children and a nephew who was living with them. Stokes was a curate earning $23,000 when he got the chance to serve on the clergy rotation for St. Andrew’s by-the-Sea in Saltaire, New York, on Fire Island.

“I can promise you I would never have been able to afford a beach house rental on Fire Island,” he said. “My kids remember that as some of the best times of their lives.”

 

The Very Rev. Timothy Kimbrough, dean of the Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville, Tennessee, would agree. His 28-year stint as one of the priests for the Episcopal Church of St. Simon-by-the-Sea, a summer chapel in Mantoloking on the Jersey Shore, has frequently served as his family’s vacation.

“It always felt like grace and like you just sort of stumbled into this privilege,” he said.

Kimbrough has roots in the area. He was a boy in 1962 when his parents moved to nearby Bay Head, where his Methodist minister father took a small church for four years while working on a doctorate at Princeton.

St. Simon-by-the-Sea was built in 1889 on land donated by Frederick W. Downer, the founder of Mantoloking, New Jersey, who was a Presbyterian. The church became an Episcopal church because the first minister was an Episcopalian, according to the church’s website. It is believed to be a copy of a Norwegian fishermen’s church. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg

During what Kimbrough called the last chapter of his father’s working life, his family moved back to Bay Head and his father commuted to New York. His mother became an Episcopalian at All Saints in Bay Head after Kimbrough was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1984.

Having been a part of the St. Simon clergy roster for so long, Kimbrough said that “a collection of relationships begins to form that become dear.” Those relationships, some of which were forged during one summer when the congregation lost a young member in a traffic accident, are now a large part of what makes Kimbrough and his wife agree to come back every summer, even now that their children are grown.

Summer chapels have both a ministry and a mission, he said, to busy people who are taking a summer break. They can be, he suggested, a place where people can “actively cultivate the spiritual when, maybe in the rest of their lives, life has gotten too busy to do that.”

Kimbrough said when “we are all trying to come to terms with what it means to be church” and when the church is exploring new ways of reaching people, “the summer chapel is not just a point of contact where the faithful are able to maintain the habits of faith.”

It might also be, he said, “where people, maybe, who aren’t otherwise exposed to the gospel or who haven’t developed regular habits of faith in the winter, have the opportunity to be exposed to good news and have the possibility of developing them.”

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

RIP: Richard Sui On Chang, fourth bishop of Hawaii

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 1:51pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Rt. Rev. Richard Sui On Chang, the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Hawaii, died Aug. 30 after a short illness.

Chang served from 1997 to 2006 when he was succeeded by Robert L. Fitzpatrick, who had been his canon to the ordinary.

He was the first bishop of Hawaii who was native to the islands. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and a Master of Divinity degree from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, the Episcopal seminary in Berkeley, California. He also studied at the University of Hawaii.

George Richard Millard, the suffragan bishop of the Diocese of California, ordained Chang to the diaconate in March 1966. Then-Bishop of Hawaii Harry S. Kennedy ordained him to the priesthood six months later.

Chang served in several roles in Hawaii before becoming the diocese’s archdeacon from 1970 to 1974. After the first bishop of Hawaii, the Rt. Rev. Edmond Browning, was installed as the Episcopal Church’s 24th presiding bishop, Chang served as his assistant. He was the executive officer of the diocese when Browning was bishop in Hawaii.

Chang served for a time as vice president of the House of Bishops.

He is survived by his wife, Delia Chang, and daughters Holly and Hannah. Service arrangements are pending.

 

 

 

Le Primat Michael Curry sur le sujet de l’ouragan Harvey

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 4:03am

[Bureau des Relations publiques de l’Église épiscopale] Il y a fort longtemps le prophète Malachie nous a enseigné que nous sommes tous des enfants de Dieu en vertu de notre création par le même Dieu. « N’avons-nous pas tous un seul père ? Un seul Dieu ne nous a-t-il pas créés ? », demandait-il (2 :10). Jésus nous a enseigné la même chose lorsqu’il a relaté le récit du Bon Samaritain. Nous sommes tous en effet les enfants de Dieu. Et si nous sommes tous les enfants de Dieu, nous sommes alors tous frères et sœurs.

Nous avons ces derniers jours vu et été les témoins de la dévastation causée par l’ouragan Harvey. Nos frères et sœurs du Texas et de Louisiane ont besoin de notre aide.

Episcopal Relief & Development nous rappelle de ne pas envoyer d’aliments, de vêtements ou d’autres articles car les diocèses affectés n’ont qu’une capacité limitée voire inexistante pour recevoir, stocker ou distribuer des marchandises. C’est plus efficace et mieux pour l’économie locale de faire un don.

Episcopal Relief & Development a déjà mis en place une action d’aide en première ligne.

  • Pour faire un don au Hurricane Harvey Response Fund pour soutenir les diocèses touchés afin qu’ils répondent aux besoins de leurs voisins les plus vulnérables à la suite de cet événement, vérifier ici.
  • Inscrivez-vous sur la page Prêt à servir pour figurer sur la liste des bénévoles potentiels pour l’avenir. Le personnel d’Episcopal Relief & Development communique ces listes aux diocèses lorsqu’ils sont prêts à recruter des bénévoles externes.
  • L’encart à utiliser pour le bulletin de ce dimanche est disponible ici.
  • Les dernières mises à jour du programme d’Episcopal Relief & Development sont disponibles sur FacebookTwitter(@EpiscopalRelief) et ici sur le site Web.
  • Vérifier sur le site Web de l’Église épiscopale toutes mises à jour et informations importantes.

Alors que nos frères et sœurs épiscopaliens se mettent au service de ceux qui sont dans le besoin, ils ont besoin de notre aide maintenant à court terme mais aussi sur le long terme. Notre soutien à Episcopal Relief & Development est une manière concrète, pratique, efficace et fiable de le faire. Gardez dans vos prières les populations du Texas et de Louisiane dont la vie se trouve à jamais changée par l’ouragan Harvey.

Ensemble, nous sommes la famille humaine de Dieu et nos efforts dans des moments comme celui-ci aident véritablement à apporter l’amour de Dieu et le nôtre à nos sœurs et frères qui en ont grandement besoin.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Primat de l’Église épiscopale

With Harvey still drenching the South, Episcopalians minister to neighbors

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 4:53pm

There’s debris in the yard but it’s getting cleaned up, and Episcopalians at Trinity by the Sea in Port Aransas, Texas, are mobilizing to clean up their community as well. Photo: James Derkits and Trinity by the Sea via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] Robert Jordan, senior warden of Trinity Episcopal Church in Baytown, Texas, says it was just something that had to be done: going out onto the Houston floodwaters in his 18-foot aluminum boat to discover people who needed rescuing. So far, he has found about 30 folks. Some he rescued from their garages; some he plucked from second-story windows. A few times he waded into homes to find people he heard calling out.

“It’s a really eerie, spooky kind of feeling because you go in and I wouldn’t say you’re scared but you are just very, very aware of the seriousness of the situation,” Jordan told Episcopal News Service by phone Aug. 30. “Then, when you have to go into the house to get them out, it really puts everything in perspective for you.”

A few suddenly homeless Trinity members — and some of their animals — are staying in Jordan’s house in Baytown, which is east of Houston proper and just northwest of Trinity Bay.

Jordan worked with two rescuers. Those men waited in pickup trucks for him to bring people out so they could ferry them to safer places.

“You have to go by yourself if you can, because you don’t know how many people you’re going to pick up,” he said. “If you take anybody with you, it gives you less capacity.”

The days since Hurricane Harvey swamped the Houston area are running together for Jordan, so he said it is hard to remember what he has done on which day. But, early on, he went to Trinity and saw some water encroaching, so he dug a ditch to divert it.

The 10-year-old church building has some minor damage and a few leaks, but nothing so bad as to prevent nearly 150 people from sheltering there overnight on Aug. 29. People from all denominations have come to the church to help and to donate supplies, Jordan said.

Piloting his rugged boat through an area where only some treetops, and no houses, were visible above the water shocked Jordan. “I’ve been here all my life and I have seen it bad but never anything like this,” he said.

 

While some Episcopalians like Jordan joined hundreds of rescuers, official and volunteer, other Episcopalians were being rescued. Two Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers in a boat with a Houston Fire Department captain rescued Bob Schorr, Diocese of Texas manager of church plants & strategic development, and his family from their flooded home on Aug. 29.

The family had hoped to ride out the storm at home. That was until they had 6 feet of water in the garage and 4 feet in the house.

“By the time we left this morning, there were U.S. Coast Guard and National Guard helicopters overhead and a flotilla of boats, wave runners and other volunteers patrolling the street looking to take people to safety,” Schorr wrote in a Facebook post after getting to a friend’s home. “I told Nancy, ‘I think it is time to leave.’ I was no longer convinced that we could stay dry on the second floor. I thought it better to be rescued through the front door than out the second-floor bedroom window.”

He said all 30 homes in his section of Kingwood, one of the last areas in Houston to flood, were inundated.

“Just like any loss or death, your emotions are raw — and well up without warning,” he wrote. “We have just begun the process of recovery — and for us and everyone in Houston and South Texas, it will be a journey of months and years, not days and weeks.”

 

Rescued and evacuated people are spread over the Houston area and beyond. Close to 10,000 have been at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Diocese of Texas Assistant Bishop Hector Monterroso was at the convention center on Aug. 28, and the next day he visited a Red Cross shelter set up in the gym at Forge for Families, in Houston’s predominately African American Third Ward.

The former bishop of Costa Rica, who recently moved to Houston, said he hopes he can contribute his experience of living through past hurricanes that wreaked damage across Central America. At both shelters he met people from many countries who now call Houston home. Monterroso also spoke with French tourists who got caught up in the hurricane, losing their money and their passports.

Regardless of their languages and their social status prior to the hurricane, the bishop said, people in the shelters are finding ways to communicate, to build community and to support each other.

“My first idea was to go there and to be around and look for the opportunity to pray with the people. After some minutes, I discovered that when people saw a clergyperson, they wanted to talk and share their concerns, their situation, their realities and their hopes,” the bishop said. “The most important experience that I had with them is that they feel thankful for their lives. They lost many things. They left their houses and their personal belongings but they say, ‘Thank God, we are here. We are alive and we are safe.’”

By the weekend, Texas Archdeacon Russ Oeschel, head of the diocesan disaster relief efforts, will have deacons and lay chaplains in the hardest-hit neighborhoods to offer comfort and emergency funds, the diocese said on Facebook Aug. 29. Spiritual care teams are already visiting the shelter at the convention center.

The Very Rev. Barkley Thompson, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, is helping to coordinate the rectors of Houston’s largest Episcopal churches to respond in the recovery effort. The cathedral was without power for five days until Aug. 30, and some buildings took on water, according to a Facebook post.

“I give thanks for each of you who have offered a warm, dry bed, a hot meal or simply comfort to your neighbors,” Texas Bishop Andy Doyle wrote on Facebook. “While it is frustrating to see so much devastation and not be able to fix it, we must first be safe and not create more work for our first responders. Where you have been able to help, it is the reflection of Christ’s love that is shared and it is this love that will bring hope in the darkest moments for many people.”

 

Some Harvey evacuees are heading to Dallas, and the nearby Diocese of Forth Worth is updating a webpage about how Episcopalians there can help. Dallas Bishop George Sumner has urged Episcopalians there to donate to Episcopal Relief & Development.

Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Diocese of Texas to provide emergency support in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the largest rainstorm in the history of the United States. Emergency support includes pastoral care, gift cards and funding for temporary housing, according to an Aug. 30 web update.

Meanwhile, the towns that took Harvey’s first hits are starting the arduous process of cleaning up and facing the future. Volunteers from Trinity by the Sea Episcopal Church in Port Aransas, Texas, are among them. The Rev. James Derkits, Trinity’s rector, said Aug. 30 that he is dividing his time three ways: trying to recover his family’s possessions from the wrecked rectory, seeing that the Trinity campus gets cleaned up and working with the city to get access for church volunteers who can help in the community.

The parish hall opened on Aug. 29 to serve as a staging center for Texas Episcopal volunteers. They’re starting to line up, he said. In addition, Episcopalians at St. Peter’s by-the-Sea in Gulfport, Mississippi, “are just waiting for us to say come on,” Derkits said. St. Peter’s was one of the churches Hurricane Katrina damaged on Aug. 29, 2005.

Derkits has a lot of help. Brother-in-law Brad Allen is working at the rectory and Jennifer Wickham is helping coordinate volunteers. Wickham, who lives in Corpus Christi where her husband is rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, is the development coordinator for Saint Vincent Centre for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

“It’s very grassroots right now, and so there’s a lot of independent groups of people that are beginning to coordinate with each other and share resources,” Wickham said of the volunteer effort. The Episcopal congregations in Corpus Christi are working together to help the communities to their south that Harvey damaged the most.

“The big work is damage assessment and identifying what the major tasks are and trying to figure out how best to communicate that to people so that nobody needs a boss to get it done,” she said.

Wickham posted a detailed account of the work on Facebook early on Aug. 30. She and others are struggling to communicate their needs because of inconsistent cellular phone service and internet access.

Prayer surrounds the work. The doors of the church are open “for people to come and pray if they need to,” Derkits said.

He has been livestreaming Morning Prayer on Facebook. “It’s been helpful because our people are so scattered all over the place and at least the ones who are on Facebook can be connected,” he said. “And it’s been helpful to me as their pastor to have some sense of providing for their spiritual needs as we’re spread out all over place.”

The city’s volunteer coordinator joined Morning Prayer on Aug. 30 before briefing the Episcopalians on where volunteers are needed in the city.

An Aug. 30 view from space via a NASA satellite shows now-Tropical Storm Harvey spreading across the southern United States. Photo: NASA GOES Project

The Diocese of Western Louisiana covers the area where Harvey made its third landfall at about 4 a.m. Aug. 30. Diocesan disaster relief coordinator the Rev. Deacon Lois Maberry told ENS by phone on the afternoon of Aug. 30 that she hadn’t heard how the parishes were faring around Lake Charles, where the eye of Tropical Storm Harvey crossed over at about 8 a.m.

“It will be affecting quite a few parishes. We have to let it pass and assess,” Maberry said from the diocesan office about 300 miles north of Lake Charles in Shreveport. “We’re getting rain, and it’s increasing. We’re anticipating the storm will pass right over us in a swath tonight.”

In a statement released midday Aug. 30, Bishop Jacob W. Owensby of the Western Louisiana diocese said that schools and offices have been closed in several of the parishes. Floodwaters encroached on some homes and businesses in the south and west areas of the diocese. Owensby is in the process of connecting with clergy in charge of congregations to check on their status.

“We wait together, not only to see what this storm brings, but also to discern how to be most helpful to those in need,” Owensby said. He continued later in the statement, “You are in my prayers for safety. Together we will get through this and bring aid to those in need.”

 

Farther east, in New Orleans, the rain was most intense late Aug. 28 and into Aug. 29, said the Very Rev. David A. duPlantier, dean of Christ Church Cathedral. Schools closed Aug. 29, but many were open Aug. 30, he said. The cathedral closed the afternoon of Aug. 29 so staff could be home, but it opened the following day, as staff cautiously went about their business. No churches have been damaged so far, the dean said.

New Orleans is used to periodic flooding, duPlantier said, so they’ve checked on the parishioners they know are most at risk and learned that some people had water creep to the edges of their homes, but not much else.

The worst effect of Hurricane Harvey in New Orleans so far? Post-traumatic stress syndrome. Aug. 29 marked the 12-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which was responsible for 1,833 deaths.

“It’s a very emotional time here even when there’s not a storm coming here or elsewhere,” duPlantier said of the day. He was dean then and was in the thick of recovery and relief efforts.

The TV images of harrowing rescues in the floodwaters around Houston are bringing back memories among her friends and family, said Karen Mackey, Louisiana diocesan communications coordinator.

“We’re relieved the rain hasn’t been as heavy as predicted, and we’re all nervous, but it’s just that time of year,” Mackey said. “We’re just praying for our friends and hoping this thing gets out and over quickly so they can start healing and recovering.”

The Louisiana diocese has asked its churches to take up a special collection for Episcopal Relief & Development’s fund for Harvey at Sunday services on Sept. 3.

“We are people who have known firsthand the generosity of others. Give what you can,” Louisiana Bishop Morris K. Thompson urged the diocese on Aug. 29.

Harvey’s rains and tidal waves have affected areas as far as the Diocese of Southwest Florida, where people were trapped in their homes and some were seen boating along the streets. St. George’s Episcopal Church in Bradenton opened to help people in a flooded mobile home park nearby, said Garland Pollard, Southwest Florida diocesan communications director.

 

For the Rt. Rev. Dabney Smith, bishop of the Southwest Florida diocese, the flood images in Houston also bring back terrible memories. He was rector of Trinity Church in New Orleans when Katrina hit. Smith remembers piles of garbage as high as rooftops, the constant smell of decay and the sound of gunshots while he was trying to sleep at night.

“It was a horrible time, and it was a holy time,” Smith told ENS on Aug. 30. Once the flooding receded, he served on the Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative, begun at the New Orleans cathedral to create desperately needed housing for Katrina victims.

“One of things I learned from my Katrina experience that I think they will learn in Houston is that, amidst systematic failures, there’s the power of the church. People from all walks of life came together to care for people who just needed compassion. I’d hear people say, ‘Thank God for the church.’”

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service. Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service, as well as a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York.

 

An ecclesiastical mystery with Civil War roots opens a new chapter

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 8:42am

[Episcopal News Service] A mid-1800s communion service that once was lost has now been found and returned home to Christ Church in Millwood, Virginia, but the story of its 162-year absence remains a mystery.

The latest chapter opens in late spring of this year in New Bern, North Carolina, when Cheryl Lawrence was sorting through boxes of donations to the local Knights of Columbus chapter for its semiannual yard sale. Lawrence knows her silver and wasn’t initially impressed with a tarnished and dinged pitcher she found in a box. Still, she put it aside and one day decided to polish some of the donated silver pieces.

As she worked on what seemed to be a pitcher, she could soon read the words “Cunningham Chapel From J.C. Terrell.” Lawrence, who said she loves to do research, turned to an internet search engine and typed the name of the chapel.

Christ Church’s stained-glass window reflects in the communion flagon that recently made its way home to Millwood, Virginia, after a 162-year disappearance. Photo: Christ Church

The only place that showed up was Christ Church in Millwood, home to Cunningham Chapel. Cunningham Chapel dates to 1762, when it opened its doors near Cunningham Tavern. It is the oldest Episcopal church in continuous use west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The congregation grew and later built Christ Church nearby in the mid-1830s.

Then she searched for J.C. Terrell, who turned out to be a lawyer from Fort Worth, Texas, who had family in the Millwood area. He came to visit in 1856. The hallmarks on the communion set date it to the 1840s to 1850s. Lawrence consulted local cemetery records, which further tied Terrell to the area.

“That’s when I called the chapel,” she said.

Enter the Rev. Matt Rhodes, deacon in charge at Christ Church and Cunningham Chapel. He told Lawrence that the legend in the church says that someone either stole the silver during the Civil War – looted might be an appropriate term – or someone removed the silver to prevent it from being stolen. Millwood, about 70 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. in the lower Shenandoah Valley, and the surrounding Clarke County saw many Civil War battles.

Lawrence and her companions who handle the antiques and collectibles for the Knights of Columbus yard sale soon found among the donations two more pieces that match the pitcher. A chalice engraved with “CC” has trim matching what they now recognize as a flagon for communion wine. A second piece similarly marked and decorated turned out to be a pedestal-style paten.

They are made of heavy silver plate, and the hallmarks show they were made by what was then known as the Meriden Britannia Co. of Meriden, Connecticut. When the pieces were new, Lawrence said, they would have looked like sterling silver.

She called the service “just beautiful,” adding “We’re just really excited to get it back to them.”

Indeed, the set’s return, via FedEx and packed by the Knights of Columbus folks “like they were packing the crown jewels” in Rhodes’ words, is a boon to the congregation.

“One of the things I love about Clarke County and this congregation is they put a very, very high premium on preserving history,” Rhodes said.

“I love liturgy and I love history. When you get something like this it’s the intersection of the two,” he said. “But I have spent a lot of time thinking about how for the brief period that they were here in the church, the hands of the priests blessed them and elevated them, and the members of the congregation drank from the chalice. People who spent time in their homes before Sunday baking the bread to be used in Eucharist. Even the fact that people at the Meriden Company made this.

“It’s not just a communion set; it’s a narrative of all these different strands of lives that come in these three pieces.”

The three-piece communion service that Fort Worth attorney and one-time U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire J.C. Terrell donated to Christ Church in 1856 is now back home. The set was discovered in a box of silver donated to the local Knights of Columbus yard sale organizers in New Bern, North Carolina. Photo: Christ Church

The latest chapter in this mystery ended on Aug. 27 when the Christ Church congregation got its first glimpse at the long-vanished communion set. The pieces sat veiled on a credence table in the aisle through the 10:30 a.m. service until Rhodes revealed the set at the end.

It was “quite moving” to watch the congregation admire the three pieces that were back home after 162 years, he said, adding: “It was a wonderful homecoming.”

The pieces need some work, and Rhodes and others are exploring how to get that restoration work properly done. “Then, depending on the condition, it would be wonderful to use it in a Eucharist again,” he said, “even if it’s just one time.” They hope to find a way to make the set a “visible part of the parish again” by displaying them.

Rhodes is also wondering if the “disappearance and loss for a century and a half before it is returned” requires that the pieces be reconsecrated.

But, the mystery remains: How and why did the service disappear, and where has it been since then?

A parishioner went through old vestry minutes and found mention that some silver had been removed from the church by an unnamed person. “We don’t know if they were stolen or hidden, or what circumstances were,” Rhodes said.

“It could have been any number of reasons it was removed,” he said of the set. “Safety, fear that it would be stolen; there’s a wide range possibilities.”

But then where did the set go for 162 years? No one knows.

The pieces came anonymously to the Knights of Columbus, which is not as suspicious as it might sound. Many folks simply leave boxes filled with items for the group to sell. The community knows that the semiannual sales are big moneymakers for the chapter of the Roman Catholic fraternal service organization. And, they know that the chapter puts the proceeds back into the community in the form of grants and other assistance.

Lawrence and Rhodes said they had hoped that publicity in the local New Bern newspaper about the mystery would have prompted the donor to get in touch. That way, Lawrence said, she could start tracing the set’s journey. For instance, did the donor have them in his or her garage? Did he or she buy them at a garage or estate sale? No one has come forward.

The people of Christ Church will continue their sleuthing, as will Lawrence in North Carolina.

Rhodes said there’s more to the sleuthing than simply solving the mystery.

“We would love to be able to thank the generations of people – whether it is a person or their descendants – that have cared for it.”

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

 

Anglicans in Perth elect Kay Goldsworthy as their new archbishop

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 8:19am

[Anglican Diocese of Perth] The Rt. Rev. Kay Goldsworthy, bishop of Gippsland, has been elected archbishop of Perth after an extensive eight-month selection process and has the honour of being the first woman elected in Australia to the role of archbishop.

The Archbishop Election Committee of 10 lay people and 10 priests considered candidates from around the world, electing a candidate who has served with distinction for almost a decade as a Bishop in the Australian Church.

The administrator of the Anglican Diocese of Perth, the Rt. Rev. Kate Wilmot, welcomed the election of Goldsworthy, commending her commitment and significant experience.

“The archbishop-elect has fulfilled her ministry for more than three decades in three Australian Dioceses and brings a breadth and depth of wisdom and an ability to collaborate with diverse members of the Church community,” Wilmot said.

“Bishop Kay was one of the first women ordained to the priesthood in St George’s Cathedral in 1992 by Archbishop Peter Carnley and in 2008 she was consecrated as the first woman Bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia by Archbishop Roger Herft,” Wilmot said.

“Bishop Kay has a wealth of diocesan, national and international experience, including being a long-standing member of General Synod and a member of the international Anglican Consultative Council. The Archbishop-elect is well known in Perth and has displayed excellent leadership and hospitality across the Perth community. We are very much looking forward to welcoming Bishop Kay and her husband Jeri James back to the Perth community.”

The installation of the eighth archbishop of Perth, and metropolitan of the Province of Western Australia will take place in St. George’s Cathedral, Perth, Feb. 10, 2018.

El Obispo Presidente Michael Curry sobre el Huracán Harvey

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 7:51am

Un video del Obispo Presidente está aquí

[El 29 de agosto, 2017] Del Obispo Presidente Michael Curry:

Hace mucho tiempo el profeta Malaquías enseñó que todos somos hijos de Dios en virtud de haber sido creados por el mismo Dios. “¿No tenemos todos un solo padre?, ¿no nos creó un mismo Dios?”, preguntó (2:10). Jesús enseñó lo mismo cuando contó una historia sobre un buen samaritano. De hecho, somos todos hijos de Dios. Y si todos somos hijos de Dios, entonces todos somos hermanos y hermanas.

En los últimos días, hemos visto y presenciado la devastación a raíz del huracán Harvey. Nuestros hermanos y hermanas de Texas y Luisiana necesitan nuestra ayuda.

La Agencia Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo nos indica que no enviemos comida, ropa u otros artículos porque las diócesis afectadas tienen limitada o ninguna capacidad para recibir, almacenar o distribuir bienes. Es más eficiente y mejor para la economía local hacer una donación.

La Agencia Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo nos dice qué podemos hacer para una ayuda de primera emergencia.

• Para donar al Fondo de Respuesta al Huracán Harvey a fin de apoyar a las diócesis afectadas para que satisfagan las necesidades de sus vecinos más vulnerables después de este evento, consulte aquí
• Inscríbase en la página Listo para Servir para registrarse como posible voluntario en el futuro. El personal de la Agencia Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo comparte estas listas con las diócesis cuando están dispuestas a reclutar a voluntarios externos
• El inserto de boletín para su uso este domingo está disponible aquí
• Las últimas actualizaciones del programa de la Agencia Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo están disponibles en Facebook y Twitter @EpiscopalRelief y aqui.
• Visite el sitio web de la Iglesia Episcopal  para obtener actualizaciones e información importante.

Mientras nuestros compañeros episcopales sirven a los necesitados, necesitan nuestra ayuda no sólo ahora o a corto plazo, sino a largo plazo. Nuestro apoyo a la Agencia Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo es una forma tangible, práctica, eficaz y confiable de hacerlo, recen por  las personas de Texas y Luisiana cuyas vidas han sido cambiadas para siempre por el huracán Harvey.

Juntos somos la familia humana de Dios y nuestros esfuerzos en tiempos como estos realmente aportan apreciable ayuda  a nuestras hermanas y hermanos en gran necesidad.

El Rvdmo. Michael B. Curry
Obispo Presidente y Primado
Iglesia Episcopal

Un video del Obispo Presidente está aquí

New podcast explores Episcopal liturgy and music

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 5:18am

[St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, St. Louis] A priest and an organist have launched a podcast exploring liturgy and music from an Episcopal perspective called All Things Rite & Musical.

You can listen to the podcast at riteandmusical.org and through iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. Podcast episodes are also available for download.

Since its August 1 premiere, All Things Rite & Musical has released episodes about Baptism and liturgically East-facing altars.

The hosts are the Rev. Ian Lasch, an Episcopal priest, and David Sinden, an Episcopal church musician.

“We want to have a conversation not just with each other, but with the whole church,” says Lasch. “We’re hoping the podcast will lead to a wider conversation about what congregations are actually doing with liturgy and music and why they are doing it that way.”

Forthcoming episodes will discuss the ordinary parts of the Holy Eucharist (Kyrie, Gloria, etc.), the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls.

“No subject is off limits,” explains Sinden. “Like the title says, it really is supposed to be about all things liturgical and musical.”

The latest episode, released today, asks listeners if they know any Episcopal parishes that regularly give announcements after the Nicene Creed (an option on page 407 of the Book of Common Prayer).

Lasch and Sinden plan to release new episodes of the podcast about once every two weeks.

All Things Rite & Musical will also occasionally include interviews with liturgical leaders in the Episcopal Church. An episode released last week is a conversation with Stephen Buzard, the Organist/Choirmaster at St. James Cathedral, Chicago. Forthcoming “special edition” episodes will include conversations with the Rev. Charles Dupree, the rector of Trinity, Bloomington, Ind., and Brad Hughley, the Organist and Director of Music at St. Paul’s, Indianapolis.

The hosts of the podcast are both on the staff of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, St. Louis, Mo.; the Rev. Ian Lasch is the Associate Rector for Formation and Fellowship; David Sinden is the Organist and Director of Music.

New primate elected in Anglican Province of the Indian Ocean

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 12:12pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop James Wong of the Seychelles has been elected as the new archbishop and primate of the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean. He succeeds Archbishop Ian Ernest who served for 11 years. The election took place on Aug. 26 at the Provincial Synod in Mauritius. Archbishop James has committed himself to the fostering of links within the communion.

Read the entire article here.

‘Our brothers and sisters in Texas and Louisiana need our help’

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 10:17am

 

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Long ago the prophet Malachi taught that we are all children of God by virtue of our creation by the same God. “Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us,” he asked (2:10). Jesus taught the same thing when he told a story about a Good Samaritan. We are indeed all the children of God. And if we are all God’s children, then we are all brothers and sisters.

In our recent days, we have watched and witnessed the devastation in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  Our brothers and sisters in Texas and Louisiana need our help.

Episcopal Relief & Development reminds us not to send food, clothing or other items because affected dioceses have limited or no capacity to receive, store or distribute goods. It is more efficient and better for the local economy to make a donation.

Episcopal Relief & Development already has actions in place for first-line aid.

  • To donate to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund to support impacted dioceses  as they meet the needs of their most vulnerable neighbors after this event, check here.
  • Sign up on the Ready to Serve page to register as a possible volunteer in the future. Episcopal Relief & Development staff share these lists with dioceses when they are ready to recruit external volunteers.
  • Bulletin insert for use this Sunday is available here.
  • The latest Episcopal Relief & Development program updates are available on Facebook, Twitter (@EpiscopalRelief) and on here on the website.
  • Check the Episcopal Church website for updates and important information.

As our fellow Episcopalians minister to those in need they need our help not just now or in the short term, but for the long haul. Our support of Episcopal Relief & Development is a tangible, practical, effective and reliable way to do that. Keep in your prayers the people in Texas and Louisiana whose lives have been forever changed by Hurricane Harvey.

Together we are the human family of God and our efforts in times like these these truly help bring God’s love and ours to our sisters and brothers in great need.

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

From Episcopal Relief & Development: Gulf Coast dioceses prepare for response to Hurricane Harvey

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 5:56pm

[Episcopal Relief & Development] Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with dioceses throughout the affected areas in Texas and Louisiana as they assess the ongoing impact of Hurricane Harvey and prepare to respond.

Tropical Storm Harvey strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane with 130 mile hour winds and made landfall in Texas on the evening of Friday, August 25th. It hit the Texas coast with devastating rains and flooding in the most powerful storm to hit the state in more than 50 years.

The National Weather Service called Harvey’s flooding unprecedented and “unknown and beyond anything experienced.” To date, there have been seven deaths reported and more than a dozen people have been injured. Hurricane Harvey has dropped more than 25 inches of rain on Houston, Galveston and the surrounding areas with heavy rains and flooding expected to continue for the next several days. Torrential rains and catastrophic flooding have destroyed towns along the coast and left thousands without shelter and access to emergency medical services. A total of 50 inches of rain is expected to fall by the end of the week throughout the area.

Episcopal Relief & Development staff is coordinating with the dioceses of Texas, West Texas and Western Louisiana on potential response efforts. Local church partners are checking on leaders and members and planning the use of church facilities and resources where available. Currently, assessments are limited due to safety concerns.

“Hurricane Harvey is not over yet,” said Katie Mears, director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s U.S. Disaster Program. “Heavy rains are expected throughout the week. Our team is in touch with affected dioceses while praying, gathering information and assessing potential local needs. Members of the dioceses are sheltering in place.”

Episcopal Relief & Development has partnered with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas to pilot the AlertMedia mass messaging system that was used successfully after the flooding in the Diocese of Louisiana last year. This platform has enabled the dioceses  to communicate with staff and congregational leaders to share information and assess needs. “Obtaining the status of church leaders and their properties will allow the diocese to focus on those with the greatest needs and move more quickly and effectively in planning their response,” Mears said.

“Leaders in Texas and Louisiana have extensive and valuable experience with responding to disasters,” Mears continued. “While it is certainly a challenging time, this wealth of experience allows diocesan leaders to develop an effective response to present needs and compassionately provide critical information in the days and months to come.”

In response to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said, “Long ago the prophet Malachi taught that we are all children of God by virtue of our creation by the same God. ‘Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us,’ he asked (2:10). Jesus taught the same thing when he told a story about a Good Samaritan. We are indeed all the children of God. And if we are all God’s children, then we are all brothers and sisters,” he continued. “As you know, our brothers and sisters in Texas now need our help. Our support of Episcopal Relief & Development is a tangible, practical, effective and reliable way to do that, not just in the short term, but for the long haul. Thank you for whatever you can do for together we are the human family of God.”

To enable Episcopal Relief & Development to provide critical support after the storm, please donate to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund.

Please continue to pray for those impacted by storms and flooding, for first responders who are conducting search and rescue operations and for church communities who are reaching out to care for their members and neighbors.

A Prayer from the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas

Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy city where the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Sustain those displaced by the storm with food, drink, and all other bodily necessities of life. We especially remember before you all poor and neglected persons it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them; that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, we may ever be defended by your gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Episcopalians face into ‘catastrophic and life-threatening’ Hurricane Harvey

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 5:41pm

Interstate highway 45 is submerged during widespread flooding Aug. 28 in Houston. Photo: REUTERS/Richard Carson

[Episcopal News Service] As Hurricane Harvey stalled over the Houston area causing catastrophic and deadly flooding, Episcopalians across south Texas are assessing the unprecedented storm’s damage while finding ways to help their neighbors.

Episcopal Relief & Development staff is coordinating with the dioceses of Texas, West Texas and Western Louisiana on potential assessment and response efforts.

“Our brothers and sisters in Texas now need our help,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in an update on the organization’s website. “Our support of Episcopal Relief & Development is a tangible, practical, effective and reliable way to do that, not just in the short term, but for the long haul. Thank you for whatever you can do for together we are the human family of God.”

Katie Mears, director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s U.S. Disaster Program warned that “Hurricane Harvey is not over yet.”

“Leaders in Texas and Louisiana have extensive and valuable experience with responding to disasters,” Mears continued. “While it is certainly a challenging time, this wealth of experience allows diocesan leaders to develop an effective response to present needs and compassionately provide critical information in the days and months to come.”

Various media outlets are reporting that between two and five people have died because of Harvey. That toll is expected to rise.

“It’s absolutely mind-boggling,” Carol Barnwell, Diocese of Texas director of communications, said of the situation in Houston on Aug. 28.

Diocesan spiritual care teams are heading to the heading for George R. Brown Emergency Center at the Houston Convention Center where some of the thousands of evacuees are being sheltered, she said.

Most every freeway running around and through the city of 6 million is flooded, and on Aug. 28, Texas Bishop Andy Doyle warned Episcopalians who might want to answer the center’s call for volunteers to “check your route for water hazards before you go.”

Flood waters have reached the top of single-story homes and people could be heard pleading inside, the Associated Press reported.

At midday Aug. 27, a U.S. Coast Guard incident commander urged residents to avoid sheltering in their attics to escape the rising flood. Instead, Capt. Kevin Oditt urged people to head to their rooftops and wave sheets, towels or anything else to attract the attention of helicopter crews.

Jack Beven, senior hurricane specialist, said in his Aug. 28 morning Tropical Storm Harvey Forecast Discussion on the National Hurricane Center website that there have been reports of close to 30 inches having already fallen in the greater Houston area. With more on the way, rainfall totals could reach 50 inches in some locations, “which would be historic for the area,” he said.

 

Conditions are changing by the hour. The rains are “currently producing catastrophic and life-threatening flooding over large portions of southeastern Texas,” according to the National Hurricane Center’s Aug. 28 afternoon advisory. Forecasters said Harvey is “drifting erratically” toward the east-southeast. They predicted the center of Harvey will linger just offshore of the middle and upper coasts of Texas through Aug. 29.

The storm could produce an additional 15 to 25 inches of rain by Sept. 1 over the upper Texas coast and into southwestern Louisiana, the advisory said.

Houston is all too familiar with hurricanes and tropical storms but, Barnwell said, typically the storms crash in and, after a few hours, the sun is back out and people can start picking up the pieces. Not so with Harvey.

“This is basically a week-long hurricane,” she said.

“You can’t imagine the noise of the rain falling straight in big, giant drops. It’s like someone poured a huge pitcher of water,” Barnwell said. “The sound is thunderous from the water coming down. That will go on for an hour or so and get you really nervous and then it will slack off.”

Doyle told Episcopalians on Aug. 27 that “we need to wait until the danger has passed to make our response so as not to complicate further the ongoing rescue operations.”

Doyle said, “Put on your church T-shirt and take care of your neighbors. Have a potluck supper if you can. If you’ve got power, invite people to come and charge their phones,” according to Barnwell.

The diocese activated its AlertMedia app, which it is running as part of a nine-diocese pilot project with Episcopal Relief & Development, to collect information about people and places in the diocese. AlertMedia sends a message to congregational leaders asking for a status report. Barnwell said she was compiling that information and attempting to contact people on the afternoon of Aug. 28.

AlertMedia is a cloud-based disaster communications tool that sends and receives messages to large groups of people via SMS, email and voice calls.

The diocesan staff is scattered around the Houston area because the diocesan office has been closed since noon on Aug. 25.

Most are working from home. However, the Rev. Kai Ryan, the diocesan canon to the ordinary and chief operating officer, has “feet of water in her house,” Barnwell said, and was evacuated with her family from their home Aug. 27 by rescuers in a Humvee.

Rescuers, official and volunteer, have been working all over the city in a variety of water-worthy vehicles and vessels. It is gratifying, Barnwell said, “watching strangers helping their neighbors; it’s amazing.”

Barnwell contacted ENS from her home in the University West section of Houston where her street had flooded and receded five or six times since Harvey’s arrival. The street fills up and the water begins to cross the sidewalk and creep up the grass. “It’s been draining really well, but at some point, it’s going to stop draining because there’s no place to go,” she said.

So much rain has fallen on the Houston area that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided Aug. 28 to release water from two dams due to the rising waters. Those releases will aggravate flooding but the Corps said with the reservoirs rapidly filling, it must reduce their levels. Barnwell said one church, St. Catherine of Siena, could face flooding. Many of those parishioners were under a mandatory evacuation order as of the afternoon of Aug. 28, as are 90 percent of the members of Calvary Episcopal Church in Richmond.

 

Hurricane Harvey developed into a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico last week and made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Rockport, Texas, on the barrier islands beyond Corpus Christi shortly before 10 p.m. CDT Aug. 25. It then moved over Copano Bay and made landfall again, this time as a Category 3 hurricane.

Two small Diocese of West Texas churches were in its path: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rockport and Trinity Episcopal by the Sea just to the south in Port Aransas. It appears to diocesan officials that St. Peter’s sustained only minor damage, Communications Officer Laura Shaver said.

The Rev. Jim Friedel, St. Peter’s rector, has not been able to get into the town yet, so Shaver said the information is somewhat speculative. However, they’ve received reports that some siding is missing from the bell tower and from the north side of the building.

Trinity parishioners boarded up their church on Aug. 23 before they evacuated. “The Lord Bless You” was spray-painted on plywood covering one of the doors.

Trinity’s rector, the Rev. James Derkits, went with his family to College Station, north of Houston, where he led prayers for the church at St. Francis Episcopal Church, according to Facebook posts.

Derkits got into Port Aransas Aug. 28 to see the damage firsthand. He reported that, while the building withstood Harvey, Trinity’s rectory and the church exterior sustained “significant damage” but the sanctuary is in “great shape.”

 

An Aug. 27 video on Trinity’s Facebook page show the church before and after Harvey, as well as the diocese’s Mustang Island Conference Center. Shaver said she is not certain who shot that video.

 

More than 20 Episcopal churches in the Corpus Christi area faced Harvey. “We’re still gathering information,” she said. “There are some of our coastal communities where even residents are not allowed to get back in yet. So, we don’t have a lot of information.”

The Diocese of West Texas has set up a new page on its website to host Harvey information and provide a donations link. The Diocese of Texas has done the same.

It appears that all Episcopalians in Harvey’s path are safe, Shaver added.

Inland in the diocese, Episcopalians are assembling hygiene kits that first-responders and others in the affected areas can give to Harvey survivors.

“Sooner or later, the big organizations are going to leave and that’s when we feel our church people will be able to go down there and help people rebuild their lives,” Shaver said.

Shaver spoke to ENS from the diocesan offices in San Antonio. She and her family left their home in Portland, northeast of Corpus Christi across Corpus Christi Bay, the afternoon of Aug. 24. Their home is still standing, but the family lost a fence and some trees, she said.

It is unusual for West Texas to have to plan hurricane relief. The most-recent natural disaster occurred over Memorial Day weekend in 2015 when a flash flood struck the city of Wimblerly, located far inland between San Antonio and Austin. Diocesan officials are drawing on some of the resources they developed at that time, Shaver said.

“I cannot think of a time when our cities were a direct hit like this,” she said.

“We’re not encouraging anybody to go [to the affected areas] right now,” Shaver added. “We are in communication with the Diocese of Texas as they deal with the incredible amount of flooding, and our hearts and prayers are now with them. The situation is kind of flipped and I know that when the time comes, we’ll all work together and our people will be there for each other.”

Officials from the National Association of Episcopal Schools are surveying the area’s Episcopal schools to assess damage, check on closings and determine what resources they can provide storm victims, said Jonathan F. Cooper, the association’s communications manager.

Cooper said he wasn’t sure yet how many schools were affected so far by Hurricane Harvey, but the association has 58 member schools in Texas and Louisiana. Shaver estimated there are six schools affected in the Diocese of West Texas. In Houston, there are 19 member and nonmember Episcopal schools, including preschool, primary and secondary levels.

Although the start of the school year varies widely among private schools, at Southern schools, particularly those in Texas, the year usually starts earlier than in the North, Cooper said. Many Texas schools would have started their fall term within the last two weeks and many of those schools are now closed again until after Labor Day.

Trinity by the Sea parishioners boarded up their Port Aransas, Texas, church on Aug. 23 before they evacuated. “The Lord Bless You” was spray painted on plywood covering one of the doors. Photo: Trinity by the Sea via the Rev. James Derkits and Facebook

Meanwhile, Louisiana is warily watching Harvey as residents there recall Hurricane Katrina, which hit the state about the same time 12 years ago.

“The Diocese of Western Louisiana continues to prepare for what might be coming in the following days,” the Rev. Deacon Lois Maberry, Western Louisiana’s diocesan disaster relief officer, said in a statement. “We remain in communication with the dioceses of Texas and West Texas to provide resources as they are presented to us. Presently, our plan of action is to stay alert and continue pray for the safety of our neighbors.”

Members of the Diocese of Louisiana are watching and waiting as well.

“All it will take is for one of those rainbands to move over us and stall out in order to experience disastrous flooding,” said Karen Mackey, Louisiana’s diocesan communications coordinator.

Fourteen of New Orleans’ 120 drainage pumps remain inoperative. Nearly half of the city’s pumps broke in torrential rains in recent weeks and caused flooding.

The Rev. Deacon Elaine G. Clements, Louisiana’s diocesan disaster coordinator, said she can’t predict how the water pumps will hold up, but the diocese is cautiously optimistic that the predictions of 4 to 10 inches of rainfall — not an unusual amount for the area — will be accurate. So, Clements and other Episcopalians have turned their attention to helping neighbors in Texas, and if it becomes necessary, to Western Louisiana.

“We stand ready to help but know that the Episcopal Church is there for the long haul, there when everyone else is gone,” Clements said. “We have walked in these shoes so many times ourselves and know how much we must depend on one another during them.”

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service. Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service, as well as a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York.

‘All Saints’ movie details how refugees saved struggling Episcopal church

Fri, 08/25/2017 - 6:18pm

Besides Ye Win’s starring role, all the Karen parishioners in “All Saints” were real parishioners at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee. Photo: “All Saints” via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] After a split over theology in the 1990s, there were only 12 members of the congregation left at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee, a suburb south of Nashville. The church couldn’t pay its mortgage. By 2007, the church was in danger of closing.

Today, 130 to 150 parishioners attend Sunday services. Many worshipers filling those pews – barefoot after leaving their flip-flops at the door – are Karen refugees, an ethnic minority from Burma (called Myanmar by its military government). The church’s mortgage is paid off. It even has a community farm now.

At All Saints’, it was the refugees who saved the Americans.

Los Angeles director Steve Gomer found the transformation of this struggling Southern congregation so inspiring that he moved his family to Nashville to create a fictionalized film about it. The Sony Pictures movie “All Saints” opened Aug. 25 in 800 theaters nationwide, starring John Corbett (“Northern Exposure,” “Sex and the City” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) as the real-life Rev. Michael Spurlock, Cara Buono (“Mad Men” and “Stranger Things”) as Spurlock’s wife, Aimee Spurlock, and Nelson Lee (“Law & Order,” “Oz” and “Blade: The Series”) playing Ye Win, a Karen leader.

Inspired by the Karen refugee story at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee, the Sony Pictures film “All Saints” releases nationwide Aug. 25 and in Europe and United Kingdom the week afterward. Photo: “All Saints” via Facebook

“The real story is remarkable. We had to change very little to make it dramatic,” Gomer told the Episcopal News Service. “You have these extraordinary people who went out of their way to say, ‘Yes, we’re here. Let’s form this community.’ I think the picture is moving but honest. It’s not saccharine.”

A lifelong Anglican, like many Karen, Ye Win and other refugees showed up at the church in 2007, asking to farm some of the church’s 20 acres to feed their families. More than 100,000 Karen live in a refugee camp on the border of Thailand and Burma. The ongoing civil war has earned them refugee status in the U.S., and they receive government support for three months after arrival. Then, they’re largely on their own.

The Trump administration’s temporary refugee ban makes this film even more timely, said the Rev. Robert Rhea, part-time vicar at All Saints’ since June 2016 and a full-time emergency-room physician. This is his first appointed post since graduating from Nashotah House Theological Seminary.

“The film has a broader impact for all Christians and faith communities. What do we do with the refugees and immigrants in our midst? How do we reach out and welcome them as God wants us to?” Rhea asked.

In the film, as in life, businessman-turned-pastor Spurlock had arrived recently at the church when Ye Win showed up. Spurlock had planned to close the struggling church. But the Karen’s farming of spinach, sour leaf and other foods not only fed their families, it helped the congregation. They were able to sell the extra crops at nearby markets to help pay the church’s bills. Yet everyone had to pitch in.

“Nobody knew what we were getting in for, as far as labor,” the real Spurlock said in a clip. “It is back-breaking work.”

The film crew shoots a church service for “All Saints,” a feature film out Aug. 25 in theaters across the United States. Photo: “All Saints” via Facebook

To research the film, Gomer attended services and family dinners. He participated in pastoral duties, such as transporting Karen people to doctor’s appointments and tutoring. Gomer is Jewish and active in his synagogue, but he’d been interested in doing a film that he cared about, something showing the difficulties clergy members experience.

“At dinner at Ye Win’s house, my wife and I realized we were sort of in a time machine. We were sitting with our great-grandparents from Russia, who had a very similar experience in the 1890s as refugees and immigrants,” Gomer said. “That’s who the United States is. Building community. This is our story, and it’s any refugee’s story, although there are special circumstances in this story to make it even better.”

These days, there’s one Sunday service with the homily preached in both languages, as are the prayers and hymns.

Lisa Lehr moved to Smyrna in 2013. She wasn’t Episcopalian but decided to join the church after a Karen woman from All Saints’ hugged her on Palm Sunday in 2014.

“They made me feel like I was there with them, that they were my community, or they could be my community if I accepted it, and I did,” said Lehr, a volunteer Christian educator and now a member of the All Saints’ Mission Council.

The Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee, led by Bishop John Bauerschmidt, is sponsoring a special free showing of the film Aug. 26 for members of the diocese. At the premiere on Aug. 3, all the stars showed up on the red carpet, with cameras and hoopla. During the film’s credits, viewers can see clips of the real congregation and what they’re doing today.

“People, not particularly Christian, I hope they will see it and be moved,” Rhea said. “This story is very, very appropriate for these times.”

— Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service, and a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, New York.