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Updated: 1 hour 58 min ago

Bishops blanket diocese in England for 4 days of mission

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 10:16am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Twenty five bishops and their teams from the northern half of The Church of England, led by Archbishop of York John Sentamu, have taken part in four days of mission and celebration called “Talking Jesus.” The bishops and their teams went out into communities in all corners of the diocese, talking about Jesus at more than 450 community events. The mission came to a close at a service of celebration at Durham Cathedral on Sunday.

Full article.

EPPN: Help address famine in South Sudan

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 1:12pm

[Episcopal Public Policy Network policy alert] Last week, the the United Nations and the government of South Sudan declared a state of famine in parts of South Sudan, the most severe state of food insecurity based on mortality, malnutrition, and According to the United Nations, 100,000 South Sudanese are facing imminent starvation, and millions more are on the brink of starvation. More than 4.9 million people need urgent food-related assistance, almost half of the new country’s population.

The crisis has worsened is recent months, despite high-level appeals for humanitarian relief. On a recent visit, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has called the famine a “dire situation” requiring an “urgent humanitarian and prayerful response.”

The famine declaration comes as South Sudan continues to be embroiled in multiple armed conflicts that have left millions of people displaced and tens of thousands killed or injured.

Our brothers and sisters in South Sudan need our support. Please take a moment to ask your members of Congress to provide funding support to help address the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.

Urge your members of Congress to provide funding to address famine in South Sudan

Which saint will win the Golden Halo?

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 7:32am

For the eighth year running, people worldwide are gearing up for Lent Madness, the “saintly smackdown” in which thirty-two saints do battle to win the coveted Golden Halo. Calling itself the world’s most popular online Lenten devotion, Lent Madness brings together cut-throat competition, the lives of the saints, humor, and the chance to see how God works in the lives of women and men across all walks of life.

The creator of Lent Madness, the Rev. Tim Schenck, sees much timeliness in this year’s edition. “During a time of great division and stress in our country, people are actively seeking role models who exemplify hope in a broken world.” Schenck, who is rector of St. John’s Church in Hingham, Massachusetts, continues, “The saints aren’t just distant figures trapped in stained glass windows. They were real people God used in inspiring ways, often during difficult times in human history. These are stories we need now more than ever.”

Lent Madness began on Schenck’s blog in 2010 as he sought a way to combine his love of sports with his passion for the lives of saints. Starting in 2012, he partnered with Forward Movement, an official ministry of the Episcopal Church, to bring Lent Madness to the masses.

The Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, Schenck’s Lent Madness co-conspirator, says, “As we see the ways Christ’s love burns brightly in a great variety of women and men, we see the possibility that Christ’s love can burn brightly in our own hearts.” Gunn, who is executive director of Forward Movement in Cincinnati, Ohio, adds, “It’s fun to build a competition around saints in all their diversity, but what they hold in common is a fierce determination to follow Jesus. There are no saints of the status quo.”

Schenck and Gunn believe the world needs hopeful, forward-looking, inspirational role models now more than ever, and the saints of the church provide that. As a way of poking fun at church hierarchies and committees, they form the self-appointed Supreme Executive Committee, a more-or-less benevolent dictatorship that runs the entire operation.

Here’s how it works: on the weekdays of Lent, information is posted here about two different saints. Each pairing remains open for 24 hours as participants read about and then vote to determine which saint moves on to the next round. Sixteen saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the Golden Halo.

The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.

This year Lent Madness features an intriguing slate of saints ancient and modern, Biblical and ecclesiastical. 2017 heavyweights include Joan of Arc, Martin Luther, Florence Nightingale, Stephen the Martyr, and Sarah the Matriarch. It also includes several intriguing matchups including Augustine of Hippo vs. Augustine of Canterbury (All-Augustine Anarchy); Fanny Crosby vs. G.F. Handel (Battle of the Bands); and Joseph Schereschewsky vs. Nikolaus von Zinzendorf (Clash of the Consonants).

This all kicks off on “Ash Thursday,” March 2. To participate, the public can visit the Lent Madness website, where participants can also print out a bracket for free to see how they fare or “compete” against friends and family members. Like that other March tournament, there will be drama and intrigue, upsets and thrashings, last-minute victories and Cinderellas. Unlike professional and collegiate sporting events, there is no admission cost for Lent Madness, but souvenirs and study aids are available in the “Lentorium” section of the Lent Madness website.

 Eleven “celebrity bloggers” from across the country have been tapped to write for the project: the Rev. Amber Belldene of San Francisco, California; the Rev. Laurie Brock of Lexington, Kentucky; Anna Fitch Courie of Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas; David Creech of Moorhead, Minnesota; the Rev. Megan Castellan of Kansas City, Missouri; Neva Rae Fox of Somerville, New Jersey; the Rev. David Hansen of Woodlands, Texas; Beth Lewis of Minneapolis, Minnesota; Hugo Olaiz of Cincinnati, Ohio; Derek Olsen of Baltimore, Maryland; and the Rev. David Sibley of Manhasset, New York. Information about each of the celebrity bloggers and the rest of the team is available on the Lent Madness website.

This year’s Golden Halo winner will join illustrious company. Previous winners were George Herbert, 17th century English poet, 2010; C. S. Lewis, 20th century British writer and theologian, 2011; Mary Magdalene, disciple of Jesus, 2012; Frances Perkins, 20th century American public servant, 2013; Charles Wesley, 18th century English preacher and hymn writer, 2014; Francis of Assisi, 13th century monastic and advocate for the poor, 2015; and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 20th century German theologian and activist who was killed by the Nazis, 2016.

 People looking for a Lenten discipline that is fun, educational, occasionally goofy, and always joyful, are invited to join in the Lent Madness journey.

Lent Madness is sponsored by Forward Movement, whose mission is to inspire disciples and empower evangelists. With offices in Cincinnati since 1935, Forward Movement is an official ministry of the Episcopal Church producing resources to support Christians in their daily lives. Learn more at www.forwardmovement.org.

Presiding Bishop’s visit strengthens link between Episcopal, Hong Kong Anglican churches

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 4:56pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry receives communion from Archbishop Paul Kwong during a Feb. 19 Eucharist at St. John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong. Photo: Tsang-Hing Ho/ECHO, HKSKH

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] On Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s first official visit to the Anglican Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, he discovered that the Christian church in Hong Kong and the rest of Asia is growing, and it reinforced his belief that relationships centered in the gospel are essential to missional partnerships.

“Christianity is growing here, Anglicanism is growing here in Hong Kong. … Hong Kong is a critical relationship in being in real relationship with Asia, and it’s clearly a relationship of equals and that becomes a model or a template for other relationships as well,” said Curry.

The Most Rev. Paul Kwong, archbishop of the Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, presided and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached, during a Feb. 19 Eucharist at St. John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong. Photo: Tsang-Hing Ho/ECHO, HKSKH

“The archbishop [Paul Kwong] is a leader in the Anglican Communion … a real statesmen, both in Asia and around the Communion,” said Curry. “Hong Kong represents, in many respects, the Anglican way of being in relationship and partnership having agreement on essentials, but creating space for disagreement on matters that are nonessential to the gospel itself.”

Curry spent two days in Hong Kong; the second stop on his first official visit as presiding bishop and primate to Asia and Southeast Asia that also included the Philippines, China and Taiwan.

Peter Ng, the Episcopal Church’s officer for Asia and the Pacific, now retired; the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church; the Rev. David Copley, director of global partnerships and mission personnel; Neva Rae Fox, the church’s public affairs officer; and Sharon Jones, executive assistant to the presiding bishop, accompanied Curry.

It was Hong Kong, said Robertson, that set the example for becoming an independent province outside colonial rule. “And they quickly became a leader,” he said.

Lord Mayor of London Andrew Parmley gave the second reading during the Feb. 19 Eucharist at St. John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong. Photo: Tsang-Hing Ho ECHO, HKSKH

Hong Kong, which became a special administrative region governed by China in 1997, was a longtime British colony. The first colonial chaplain was appointed in 1843. The Diocese of Victoria was created in 1849 and later became part of the first national church organization in China. In 1951, following the formation of the People’s Republic of China, the then-Diocese of Hong Kong and Macau became a detached diocese. It became an independent Anglican province in 1998.

Its partnership with the Episcopal Church dates to the 1940s and ’50s, said the Most Rev. Paul Kwong, archbishop of the Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, in a Feb. 20 interview with Episcopal News Service.

The partnership has included companion diocese relationships, and the Episcopal Church helped to build churches in Hong Kong and Macau in the early years, he said.

“So, we’ve had that link for a long time,” he said.

The presiding bishop’s visit, Kwong said, was significant in that it served to strengthen the link between the Hong Kong Anglican Church and the Episcopal Church.

But the presiding bishop’s visit also was significant in that Curry is new to his primacy and it brought together two primates, said Kwong, who in was elected chair of the Anglican Consultative Council in April 2016.

“Over the years, the Communion has been deeply divided and impaired by some contentious issues, and the Episcopal Church has been at the center these arguments and division,” said Kwong, referring to the 2003 ordination and consecration of now retired New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and 78th General Convention’s canonical and liturgical changes in 2015 to provide marriage equality for Episcopalians.

“His visit has allowed us to share and learn from each other and also understand our own situation because we are in different contexts. [The Communion] has spent too much time trying to resolve these problems.”

It’s time, said the archbishop, to shift focus to mission and to ask, “What is the Communion for? How can we make our communion relevant in our own contexts and to the world at large?

“After all, we are brothers in Christ, and we are called to serve the people.”

Curry’s message, rooted in what he calls the “Jesus Movement,” underscores the Episcopal Church’s focus on mission partnerships, Kwong added.

The Most Rev. Paul Kwong, archbishop of the Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, and the Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, process into St. John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong on Feb. 19. Photo: Tsang-Hing Ho/ ECHO, HKSKH

“His message has demonstrated very clearly that the Episcopal Church has a very strong sense of mission and evangelism, and homosexuality isn’t the only issue the church has to address, even though it’s a very serious issue that no one should ignore. … The message about the Jesus Movement and reconciliation is very significant to the communion.

“In his sermon yesterday in the cathedral he passionately indicated that God has a dream for every one of us, every church and particularly for the communion. I’m sure that God’s dream is for us to reconcile to each other and that we should work together in unity for the common good.

“Because over the years we have spent too much time and energy and effort trying to resolve our differences, and I think it’s time that we sit together and talk about our common good.”

It was clear, said Curry, in a later interview with Episcopal News Service, that Kwong is a “bridge builder,” and Robertson added that “Hong Kong, in many ways, represents the Anglican Way of being in partnership.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached to a full house at St. John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong on Feb. 19. Photo: Tsang-Hing Ho/ECHO, HKSKH

Curry brought his fiery Jesus Movement message to a standing-room-only crowd that overflowed into the courtyard of St. John’s Cathedral in the heart of Hong Kong’s central business district.

“Hold fast to dreams because life without a dream is like a bird that cannot fly,” said Curry during his Feb. 19 sermon, invoking a poem by Langston Hughes. “God has a dream, and our lives are meant to be lived in harmony with God’s dream.”

It was a message that David Xia, who studied Anglicanism in England, traveled more than three hours from Shenzhen, across the border with mainland China, to hear. A message that he said impressed him because of the presiding bishop’s passion and his humility.

“It was quite a great honor to have the presiding bishop with us this morning,” said the Very Rev. Matthias C. Der, the dean of St. John’s Cathedral. “It has strengthened the relationship between Hong Kong and the Episcopal Church. And the presiding bishop gave a very inspiriting sermon this morning followed by spontaneous applause; I’m sure his preaching will continue to nurture us into the future.”

Following the Feb. 19 Eucharist, Der gave a presentation about the Province of Hong Kong’s history and ministry to the presiding bishop and his staff.

The Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui includes the dioceses of Hong Kong Island, Eastern Kowloon, Western Kowloon and the Missionary Area of Macau. Some 30,000 people worship in about 40 congregations and mission points, served by more than 70 clergy members. The province operates social service ministries, including its prison ministry, mental health and elder care ministries, its mission for migrant workers and its program to assist domestic workers.

Many migrant workers from Indonesia and the Philippines work as domestics in Hong Kong.  Many Filipinas, from the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, the Philippine Independent Church and the Roman Catholic Church, worship at St. John’s Cathedral, which holds eight weekend services in four languages – English, Mandarin, Cantonese and Tagalog — for more than 2,000 people, 65 percent of them from the Philippines.

The Province of Hong Kong has grown 40 percent over the last decade and has 50 parishes, 140 schools and 400 social service units across Hong Kong and Macau, said Der.

Click here to watch a video of the presiding bishop preaching at St. John’s Cathedral on Feb. 19.

-Lynette Wilson is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service.

Episcopal Church announces Stewardship of Creation grant recipients

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 4:33pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Eight grants, totaling $69,400, have been awarded in the first round of grantmaking managed by the Advisory Council for the Stewardship of Creation and approved by the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church at its February meeting.

Grants were awarded to:

  • Episcopal Earthkeepers Circle, Diocese of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota to develop an online repository of sermon starters, sample sermons and ideas for creation care themed preaching: $5,000.
  • Charis Community at Grace Church, Charlottesville, Virginia to support a young adult intentional community’s permaculture best practices initiative which invites community and nearby churches into sacred appreciation of the land: $7400.
  • St. Mark’s Church, San Marcos, Texas to develop a pilot Water-Spirit-Wisdom program around the estuary to the San Antonio Bay for local congregations. The pilot program will be tested and revised for broad-based sharing around the church: $10,000.
  • Honore Farm and Mill, Larkspur, California expand the Farm to Altar program to a new location for the growing of and stone milling of organic heirloom wheat for environmental education through communion bread baking: $10,000
  • The Abundant Table, Ventura, California to expand the Eco-Spanish Language Bible and Book study for farmworkers, develop the Eco-farm church for young families and youth groups: $10,000.
  • Iowa Creation Stewards, Diocese of Iowa, to develop four regional working groups organized around watersheds to cultivate land, develop worship materials and lead forums on faith and the land: $10,000.
  • Episcopal Church in New Hampshire, to support for a 40 day spiritual journeys of renewal and restoration via canoes and kayaks along the Connecticut River involving all the New England dioceses. Worship materials, rituals and prayers will be shared broadly around the church for others to replicate: $7000
  • Diocese of Haiti, Centre Agriculture, to develop a drip-irrigation use system as a practical need for orchards and field crops. Use as a model of water conversation for other communities and congregations who will learn about the system: $10,000

The Advisory Council was created by General Convention in 2015 via Resolution A030, and charged with the responsibility to develop a grant process to support local ecologically responsible stewardship of church-related properties and buildings.

Twenty applications were received in the first round. Applicants whose requests were not funded are eligible to revise and re-submit their requests in the second round of funding, which is open now.

Further information regarding this grant process and how to submit an application is available here.

Members of the Advisory Council for the Stewardship of Creation are: Bishop Marc Andrus, co-chair, Diocese of California; the Rev. Stephanie Johnson, co-chair, Diocese of Connecticut; Paul Anton, Diocese of Minnesota; the Rev. Jerry Cappel, Diocese of Kentucky; the Rev. Patrick Funston, Diocese of Kansas; the Rev. Esther Georges, Diocese of the Virgin Islands; Perry Hodgkins Jones, Diocese of Atlanta; the Rev. Martha Kirkpatrick, Diocese of Delaware; the Rev. Nurya Love Parish, Diocese of Western Michigan; Kelly Phelan, Diocese of Los Angeles; Peter Sergienko, Diocese of Oregon; Dr. Andrew Thompson, Diocese of  East Tennessee; Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Ex Officio; President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, Ex Officio; Jayce Hafner, staff liaison.

San Joaquin poised to take unusual step in bishop election

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 3:30pm

[Episcopal News Service] When the Diocese of San Joaquin meets in convention March 4 to elect a bishop, the path Episcopalians took to get to that moment – and the choice they will make – will be symbolic of the way they are rebuilding their diocese.

In addition to the ecclesial challenges Bishop David Rice has faced with the people of the Diocese of San Joaquin, he also faced a medical challenge. Rice spent more than a month recovering from valley fever, a rare fungal infection endemic to the San Joaquin Valley. Photo: Diocese of San Joaquin via Facebook

It has been nearly 10 years since an earlier San Joaquin convention voted to disaffiliate with the Episcopal Church. Then-Bishop John-David Schofield, at odds with the Church over the ordination of women and gay clergy and issues of biblical authority, led the Dec. 8, 2007, action by the Central California Valley diocese.

The intervening years have been marked by what Cindy Smith, the current chair of the diocesan standing committee, described as, first, scrambling to recover and trying to heal and then, in the last three years, a change of focus toward moving forward.

The March 4 convention will elect the diocese’s bishop provisional, the Rt. Rev. David Rice, as its diocesan bishop, marking the first time in recent memory that a bishop will make that transition. The election will come without the typical bishop search involving multiple nominees and what diocesan officials estimate would have cost upwards of $50,000.

The diocese paved the canonical way for Rice’s election in October when the annual convention amended its rules (Title I, Section 1.05 here) to allow such an election by a supermajority and only after a bishop provisional has been serving the diocese for at least 18 months.

While such an election may seem unusual, Smith said it feels like the logical next step for the diocese. Diocesan leaders spent 18 months exploring with the presiding bishop and other church authorities the option of making Rice the diocesan bishop, explaining the possibility to Episcopalians in San Joaquin and listening to their reaction.

“We made every effort and we took the temperature of the diocese as we did this,” Smith told Episcopal News Service. “We wanted it not to seem to be something being pushed through by the standing committee but the standing committee responding to the will of the diocese.”

Smith said the only questions she and others encountered in deanery meetings held to broach the issue were procedural. “The other question was why we waited so long,” she said.

A majority of both the Church’s diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction will have to agree to Rice’s election as diocesan, as is required in all bishop elections. The San Joaquin standing committee will include a letter about the election process in the documentation sent with the consent request, Smith said.

Most of the other bishops provisional who have helped the Church’s five reorganizing dioceses have been retired bishops not interested in a long-term job. Rice, on the other hand, “has years ahead of him in the bishop business,” Smith said.

When the diocese elected him in March 2014 as the diocese’s third bishop provisional, Rice had since 2008 been the bishop of the Diocese of Waiapu in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. Born and raised in North Carolina, Rice was a Methodist pastor for eight years prior to his ordination in the Anglican Church in New Zealand.

Rice brought “enthusiasm and motivation and commitment to the diocese,” according to Smith, who added that the diocese wants to reciprocate Rice’s commitment and solidify the relationship that has been growing for the last three years.

“This road map for election may seem slightly odd for some people in the church,” Rice told ENS. “All I would say about that is we’re different. We’re simply doing what we think is consistent with our narrative, how we’re emerging.”

Rice and Smith say the diocese leadership believes that, instead of the normal bishop election process, in which candidates travel the diocese together to introduce themselves, San Joaquin has had a three-year “walkabout,” and the bishop and the diocese have really gotten to know each other.

Retired Diocese of Northern California Bishop Jerry Lamb and retired Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Chet Talton, Rice’s predecessors, worked with Episcopalians to reconstitute the diocese. That work included both litigation over church property and pastoral work over pain the split caused.

“We acknowledge full well that there have been monumental attitudinal, behavioral, cultural shifts in this place over a very short period of time, given the past,” Rice said. Before the 2007 vote to leave, Episcopalians experienced tactics that kept them divided. Now, he said, they are “working together, being in this together, and far more consultative, collaborative and collegial than, certainly, this place ever imagined.”

Those changes came as the diocese reconfigured where and how it operates, and began discerning to what mission God is calling local Episcopalians. Rice said he had been talking since before he became a bishop about the church needing to “travel far lighter, to de-accumulate to minimize, to purge” itself.

“What I discovered upon arrival was, all those things I’d been talking about, they’d actually been living here for some time,” he said. Thus, Rice added, he thinks that San Joaquin’s experience can be a template for the rest of the church.

“We’re here through particular circumstances. I believe that most if not all this Church will be in a similar place, albeit through different circumstances, before we know it.”

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

Curry, Jennings take lead in Supreme Court brief on transgender-bathroom policy

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 3:08pm

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings are the lead signers on an amicus brief filed March 2 by 1,800 clergy and religious leaders in a U.S. Supreme Court case involving transgender-bathroom use policies.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, shown here at the Executive Council’s October 2016 meeting, say they anchored their decision to be the lead signers on a U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief in the theological understanding that all people are created in the image of God and thus entitled to equal protection under the law. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The “friend of the court” brief comes in the case of G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, which the American Civil Liberties Union and its Virginia chapter filed on behalf of Gavin Grimm and his mother, Deirdre Grimm, in June 2015.

The signers urge the high court to see that the ability to live in a country that guarantees transgender equality is a religious freedom issue. They said their faith communities have approached issues related to gender identity in different ways, but are “united in believing that the fundamental human dignity shared by all persons requires treating transgender students like Respondent Gavin Grimm in a manner consistent with their gender identity.”

The signers urged the court to address the civil rights of transgender persons according to religiously neutral constitutional principles of equal protection under the law. Doing so, they said, “will not impinge upon religious belief, doctrine, or practice” and instead will adhere to the Constitution’s prohibition against favoring one religious viewpoint over any others.

Curry anchored his support of the brief in Genesis 1:26-27, which declares that every human person is created in the image and likeness of God.

“This divine decree proclaims the inherent sacredness, dignity, worth, and equality of every human person, by virtue of their creation imago Dei,” he said. “The way of love for God and our neighbor that Jesus taught is the way to honor the sacredness, dignity and worth and equality of each person. For this reason, we work for the equality and dignity of transgender people, who, like the rest of us, are created in God’s image and likeness.”

Jennings said Jesus tells his followers to love God and love their neighbor as themselves. “And, he tells us not to be afraid. The Episcopal Church affirms the victory of love over fear by supporting local, state and federal laws that prevent discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression,” she said.

That support dates at least to General Convention’s 2009 meeting, when bishops and deputies passed Resolution D012 opposing laws that discriminate against people based on their gender identity. It was in that vein that the Church’s Executive Council said in June 2016 that it opposed North Carolina’s “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act,” as well as “all legislation, rhetoric and policy rooted in the fear-based argument that protecting transgender people’s civil rights in the form of equal access to public accommodation puts other groups at risk.”

Jennings noted that the last resolve of council’s resolution (AN014 on page 8 here) encourages Episcopalians to work against legislation that discriminates against transgender people and for legislation that prevents such discrimination, and to communicate the church’s position to courts, policymakers and others across the United States.

“For the two of us to sign this amicus brief, that’s not a leap at all,” Jennings said. “We’ve already said as a church that’s what you do.”

The outline of the case

The case took shape in 2014 after Grimm and his mother told school administrators of his male gender identity at the beginning of his sophomore year. With their permission, he used the boys’ restroom for almost two months without any incident, according to the original complaint. However, some parents and other Gloucester County residents objected, prompting the school board to adopt a policy that limited students’ bathroom use to the one of “the corresponding biological genders” or “an alternative appropriate private facility.”

The complaint said the policy stigmatizes Grimm, who is now 18 and will graduate this year. He is the only student in the high school using the private bathroom and this practice marks him as different, isolates him and exposes him to “serious psychological harm,” according to the complaint.

The lawsuit argues the bathroom policy is unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law, and violates Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination by schools.

ACLU attorneys asked the district state court for preliminary injunction in time for Gavin to be able to use the same restroom as other boys when classes resumed for the 2015-16 school year. The district court denied the request and dismissed the Title IX claim. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned the lower court in August.

The Gloucester County School Board successfully petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the appeals court decision. The Fourth Circuit’s ruling is on hold, pending the higher court’s ruling.

The case was complicated on Feb. 22 when President Donald Trump revoked the Obama administration’s interpretation that Title IX required schools to “treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.” The next day the Supreme Court asked the main parties for their views on how the case should proceed. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals relied heavily on that guidance in its ruling.

Attorneys for Grimm on March 1 urged the justices to proceed with the current schedule for March 28 oral argument. The school board suggested putting off the case at least until April to allow the federal government to weigh in, SCOTUSblog reported.

Religious freedom for all

Religious freedom is a main concern in the amicus brief. Permitting religiously based anti-transgender types of laws would enshrine religious beliefs in the country’s law and implicitly favor religious viewpoints that reject the existence of transgender persons over those who embrace such persons’ existence and dignity, the signers said.

“The First Amendment forbids both forms of religious favoritism,” they said.

“Here, a public school student who happens to be a transgender boy seeks no more than to use the same toilet facilities as every other boy in his school,” they said at the conclusion of the brief. “Forcing him instead to use stigmatizing separate facilities humiliates him for no apparent reason other than to appease religious views denying the existence of his gender identity.”

The signers said that causing Grimm such harm is inconsistent with their belief “as a matter of law, religious faith, and fundamental decency – that transgender students should be treated with equal dignity and respect.”

Jennings said the opposing claims of religious freedom were at the heart of hers and the presiding bishop’s interest in joining the brief. “We oppose all legislation that seeks to deny the God-given dignity, legal equality, and civil rights of transgender people,” she said. “We support transgender equality not in spite of our Christian faith, but because of it.”

Jennings said the brief very clearly says that religious freedom belongs to all Americans, not just one group’s theology.

Curry and Jennings have acted on Executive Council’s admonition to confront discriminatory laws before. Shortly after council acted in June, Curry and Jennings wrote to the Episcopal Church explaining their opposition to the North Carolina bill and saying that they had written to the state’s governor and members of the state’s General Assembly, calling on them to repeal the bill.

Last month, they wrote to the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives to praise his opposition to a “bathroom bill” in that state.

This is the second time in two years that Jennings has taken the lead in filing amici briefs with the Supreme Court. In April 2015, she was a lead signer on an amicus brief filed by nearly 2,000 individual lay and ordained religious leaders in the Supreme Court case on same-sex marriage known as Obergefell v. Hodges and Consolidated Cases.

More information about the Gloucester County School Board suit, including legal filings, is here.

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

Episcopal Church Young Adults, Campus Ministries grant applications available

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 2:39pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Applications are now accepted for grants to assist with young adults and campus ministries in the Episcopal Church.

Grants are intended to provide funding for an Episcopal ministry (or ecumenical ministry with an Episcopal presence) in a diocese, congregation, or community college/tribal college/university campus that is currently engaging or seeking a new relationship with young adults on and off college campuses.

Grants are for the 2017-18 academic year.  A total of $128,000 is available for this cycle, with a total of $400,000 available this triennium.

Information, application guidelines and other important data are located here.  The application is available here.  Deadline for submitting grants is April 10 by 10 p.m. ET.

There are three categories of grants:

Leadership Grant: to establish a new, restore a dormant, or re-energize a current campus ministry. Grant will range from $20,000 to $30,000 and can be used over a two-year period.

Campus Ministry Grants: to provide seed money to assist in the start-up of new, innovative campus ministries or to enhance a current ministry. Grants will range from $3,000 to $5,000.

Young Adult Ministry Grants: to provide seed money to assist in the start-up of new, innovative young adult ministries or to enhance a current ministry. Grants range from $3,000 to $5,000.

Preference in selection will be given to projects that:

  • are collaborative and bring members of the community together.
  • bring new learning into a community.
  • prepare young adults for leadership and/or provide training for young adults.
  • reach those who are traditionally least likely to seek out a campus ministry or other Episcopal young adult ministry.
  • address the priorities of General Convention.
  • promote reconciliation, evangelism or environmental stewardship.

Ministers in charge of ministry grants are expected to attend any churchwide gatherings of campus or young adult ministers sponsored by the Episcopal Church during the term of the grant. The Young Adult and Campus Ministry Leadership Conference is slated for June 25-28 in Austin, Texas.

For more information contact the Rev. Shannon Kelly, officer for young adult and campus ministry, at skelly@episcopalchurch.org or Valerie Harris, formation associate, at vharris@episcopalchurch.org.

Anglican Board of Mission makes emergency appeal for East Africa

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 12:57pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Board of Mission – the national mission agency of the Anglican Church of Australia – has launched an emergency appeal as the crisis worsens in parts of East Africa due to extreme drought. It hopes to raise 50,000 Australian dollars.

Full article.

Church Pension Fund serves as anchor investor in Off-Grid, Renewable and Climate Action Impact Note

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 10:57am

[Church Pension Fund news release] The Church Pension Fund (CPF), a financial services organization that serves the Episcopal Church, announced March 2 that it served as an anchor investor in the Developing World Markets’ $60.8 million Off-Grid, Renewable and Climate Action (ORCA) Impact Note. CPF and Wespath Benefits and Investments, a general agency of The United Methodist Church, invested $60 million ($30 million each).

The ORCA Impact Note will provide renewable energy finance loans to social businesses in the developing world and is composed of 11 underlying loans made to inclusive financial institutions and operating companies. These organizations support renewable energy creation and services in nine countries across three continents, including: Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

“The Church Pension Fund was pleased to serve as an anchor investor, which helped bring other investors to the table to provide renewable energy finance loans to social businesses in the developing world,” said Roger Sayler, managing director and chief investment officer of CPF. “This investment will impact the lives of people on three different continents and is reflective of our commitment to doing good while earning a competitive rate of return. We look forward to building our relationship with Developing World Markets as we continue to explore future socially responsible investment opportunities.”

This transaction follows two previous socially responsible investments with the Cheyne Social Property Impact Fund and the Avanath Affordable Housing Fund from earlier in 2016. CPF currently has socially responsible investments in 23 countries, bringing its current total commitment to socially responsible investing (SRI) to nearly $1 billion. With respect to SRI-related investments, CPF targets investments in women- and minority-owned firms; economically targeted initiatives, including urban redevelopment, affordable housing, sustainable agriculture, and microfinance; and environmental-related programs that invest in sustainable forestry, clean technology and green buildings. On an ongoing basis, CPF works with external investment managers to identify and evaluate additional opportunities for SRI.

Church Pension Group observes 100 years of service to Episcopal Church

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 10:37am

[Church Pension Group press release] The Church Pension Group (CPG), a financial services organization that serves the Episcopal Church, announced March 1 that it was observing its centennial anniversary.

“A hundred years ago Bishop William Lawrence had an audacious vision of creating a pension fund that would enable clergy who spent their lives in service to the Episcopal Church to retire in dignity,” said Mary Kate Wold, CEO and president of CPG. “Today we still adhere to his vision and have paid out more than $5.5 billion in benefits over the past century. What began as a pension benefit for retiring clergy has expanded to include a full range of benefits and other products for clergy and lay employees of the Church.”

“As we look to our next century of service, we are committed to maintaining our financial strength, upholding our fiduciary responsibilities, and living out our purpose,” Wold added. “We will continue to seek to understand the challenges and lives of those whom we serve so we can be ready to respond to evolving needs in the years ahead.”

As part of this historic occasion, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Memphis, Tennessee Mayor Jim Strickland, and the Select Board of the Town of Bennington, Vermont, where CPG has offices, declared March 1, “The Church Pension Group Centennial Anniversary Day.” In addition, a tree will be planted in the Bishop’s Garden at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, where legislation to create the Church Pension Fund was passed by an act of General Convention in 1913.

CPG employees will also participate in a Day of Service to support the Kids In Need Foundation, an organization that provides free school supplies nationally to students most in need. Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry will preside over a celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the Church of the Incarnation later in 2017.

Wold concluded, “We are blessed to have learned from and to stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. We are imbued with the same commitment and values shared by Bishop Lawrence a century ago and remain ever passionate about our purpose, which is serving the employee benefits needs of the Episcopal Church.”

About The Church Pension Fund

The Church Pension Fund (CPF) is an independent financial services organization that serves the Episcopal Church. With approximately $12 billion in assets, CPF and its affiliated companies, collectively the Church Pension Group (CPG), provide retirement, health, and life insurance benefits to clergy and lay employees of the Episcopal Church. CPG also offers property and casualty insurance as well as book and music publishing, including the official worship materials of the Episcopal Church. Learn more at www.cpg.org.

 

Líderes episcopales y luteranos en EE.UU. y Canadá emiten un mensaje de Miércoles de Ceniza sobre los refugiados

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 6:53pm

[Episcopal News Service] El obispo primado de la Iglesia Episcopal Michael Curry se unió el 1 de marzo con líderes anglicanos y luteranos en América del Norte para emitir un mensaje de Miércoles de Ceniza titulado “Recuerden a los refugiados y a los migrantes”.

Curry se unió al primado de la Iglesia Anglicana del Canadá Fred Hiltz, a la obispa presidente de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América Elizabeth A. Eaton y la obispa nacional de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en Canadá Susan C. Johnson para enviar el mensaje.

A continuación el texto completo del mensaje:

“En este día muchas personas participarán en una liturgia que incluye la imposición de cenizas. Algunos celebrantes nos imponen esas cenizas en la frente y nos recuerdan que no somos más que polvo y al polvo volveremos. Otros nos trazan en la frente el signo de la cruz, un recordatorio del lugar a donde nos lleva la trayectoria cuaresmal. Incluso al comienzo de esta estación santa se nos recuerda que si bien para algunos la cruz es una piedra de tropiezo y para otros mera tontería, para los que son llamados es el poder de Dios y la sabiduría de Dios (I Corintios 1:23).  Al recordar a Cristo crucificado somos conscientes no sólo de nuestra necesidad personal de arrepentimiento y renovación al llevar a cabo la obra de Dios, sino ciertamente de la necesidad de toda la humanidad de arrepentirse de nuestra indiferencia ante el quebrantamiento de nuestras relaciones, al sufrimiento de millones de personas en todo el mundo que están hambrientos, oprimidos, esclavizados o que buscan santuario incluso si se trata de un lugar lejos de sus patrias.

“Esta Cuaresma llamamos a nuestras iglesias a tener continuamente presente a los refugiados de todo el mundo y las crisis migratorias, y las injusticias y los conflictos que han abultado las estadísticas hasta llegar a cifras más grandes que nunca antes en la historia del mundo. Reconocemos la buena obra hecha por tantos de nuestros sínodos y diócesis y parroquias en patrocinar refugiados, acogerles y acompañarles y abogar por ellos en tanto se establecen en nuestros países. Del mismo modo, encomiamos la obra compasiva de nuestras iglesias compañeras en otras tierras y a los organismos intergubernamentales que se ocupan de los migrantes y refugiados. Llamamos a nuestras iglesias a no cansarse de realizar esta buena obra en nombre de Dios.

“Dado el actual clima político en Estados Unidos, es importante decir que si bien nuestros dos países reconocen la necesidad de medidas que garanticen la seguridad nacional, también defendemos las políticas establecidas durante mucho tiempo que acogen a migrantes y refugiados. Eso no quiere decir que ninguna de ellas no sea susceptibles de reforma. Sino decir que las políticas justas y generosas fortalecen la economía de nuestras naciones y enriquecen el tejido social y cultural de nuestros países: un tejido creado tanto por los Primeros Pueblos de estas tierras como por todos los que se han establecido aquí a través de numerosas oleadas migratorias a lo largo de nuestras respectivas historias.

“La acción y las deliberaciones justas y generosas están, desde nuestra perspectiva, profundamente arraigadas en la Ley de Moisés, en la enseñanza de los profetas y en el Evangelio de Jesús. Por unos dos milenios, millones de personas han encontrado consuelo en el sufrimiento de Jesús en la cruz y en su santo nombre han rogado por la compasión y la justicia de Dios en medio de las terribles circunstancias de sus vidas —circunstancias que les han obligado a huir de su patrias abriéndose paso en medio de peligrosas travesías. A veces encuentran refugio en naciones nuevas y con frecuencia se dirigen a puertos donde pueden abordar embarcaciones y emprender lo que a menudo son viajes traicioneros en la esperanza de llegar  a un territorio libre de la opresión que han conocido. Algunos lo logran. Muchos no.

“Que esta estación de Cuaresma resalte especialmente por nuestras oraciones y nuestra defensa de refugiados y migrantes —fugitivos, en los campamentos de Naciones Unidas, a la espera, en nuestras comunidades… Y que resalte por la continua determinación de recibir al extranjero en medio nuestro, porque tal hospitalidad es acorde con la fe que proclamamos (Mateo 25:31-40)”.

U.S.-based, Philippine Episcopal churches enter concordat agreement

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 6:07pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry speaks to a packed audience at Trinity University of Asia during a keynote address focused on the Jesus Movement. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Manila, Philippines] When Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Prime Bishop Renato Abibico recently signed a concordat agreement, they did so as equals.

Longtime covenant companions, the Episcopal Church and Episcopal Church in the Philippines entered a new commitment to remain in partnership and to learn from one another in the areas of program, mission and ministry.

“The [concordat] is intentionally designed as a partnership between two equal partners in the gospel,” said Curry, in an interview with Episcopal News Service, following the document’s signing.

Episcopal Church of the Philippines Prime Bishop Renato Abibico and Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry signed the concordat agreement on Feb. 18 during a Eucharist at the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John in Quezon City. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

The bishops signed the concordat, based in friendship, cooperation and mutual respect, during a Feb. 18 Eucharist at the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John in Quezon City, a part of metro Manila. Clergy traveled in some cases more than 12 hours to witness the historic document’s signing. Curry made the Philippines his first of four stops on a tour of Asia and Southeast Asia that included Hong Kong, China and Taiwan.

“The [concordat] fully commits us,” said Renato, following the concordat’s signing. “It’s not just a document.”

The companion agreement, as it’s defined in the concordat, was six years in the making, said Peter Ng, the Episcopal Church’s officer for Asia and the Pacific, now retired, who accompanied Curry on his visit, along with the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church; the Rev. David Copley, director of global partnerships and mission personnel; Neva Rae Fox, the church’s public affairs officer; and Sharon Jones, executive assistant to the presiding bishop.

The Episcopal Church established a missionary district in the Philippines in 1901, when the United States controlled the archipelago. In 1965, the church became a missionary diocese; and in 1990 the Episcopal Church of the Philippines became an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. At the time of autonomy, the two churches established a covenant relationship, whereby the U.S.-based church continued to provide the Philippine church with 60 percent of its operating budget.

During a visit to the Philippine church’s national headquarters in a brand-new building on its 37-acre compound in Quezon City, which also includes Trinity University of Asia and St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary, the presiding bishop and his staff heard a presentation by Floyd Lalwet, the Philippine church’s provincial secretary, about its story from financial dependence to self-sufficiency.

Two years after becoming an independent province the Joint Committee on the Philippine Covenant in 1992 proposed a 15-year plan to gradually reduce the support from the Episcopal Church from $800,000 to $533,333 to $267,667 over five-year intervals.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached and concelebrated alongside Prime Bishop Renato Abibico during a Feb. 18 Eucharist at the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John. Curry made the Philippines his first of four stops on a tour of Asia and Southeast Asia. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

In 2004, a year after the Philippine church ran its highest-ever budget deficit, its leadership, by then worried for the church’s survival, contemplated asking the Episcopal Church for a three-year extension. After heated debate, however, the church reversed course and decided rather than prolong its dependence, it would become independent on Jan. 1, 2005, two years before the agreement expired, explained Lalwet.

“It took the leadership to change its thinking,” he said, adding that in 2005, after implementing the church ended the year with a $60,000 surplus.

The covenant relationship between the U.S.-based Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in the Philippines remained intact in 2005, but rather than use the subsidy for operating expenses the money was added to the church’s Centennial Endowment Fund, established in 2001.

Today, the church is renovating its headquarters’ campus, with plans to build a new, state-of-the-art hospital to replace nearby St. Luke’s Hospital and to build a new seminary to replace St. Andrew’s. The church has also implemented a Receivers to Givers policy, changing the church’s mindset from one of dependence to independence. The shift in mindset and financial independence, Lalwet said, has changed the culture of the church and has instilled a sense of pride in its members.

There was a time, he said, when friendly visits were a setup, “at the end of the day we were just there to ask for something. Today, when we sit at the table, we sit as partners, and that has strengthened the relationship and made it more exciting. People here are happy they can share something.”

(In September of 2014, bishops from the Episcopal Church’s Province IX dioceses spent a week in the Philippines studying the church’s self-sustainability model. The Episcopal Church maintains covenant relationships with the Anglican Church of Mexico, the Anglican churches in Central America, the Anglican-Episcopal Church of Brazil, and the Episcopal Church of Liberia.)

Organic vegetables were carried from as far as six hours to be set on the altar as part of the offertory. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

The Episcopal Church in the Philippines’ autonomy journey is a story of miracles; a model that the rest of the Anglican Communion, including the Episcopal Church, can learn from, said Curry, in an interview with ENS.

“By miracle, I mean, a miracle that resulted from people being in partnership with God and doing the hard work, and it actually worked,” said Curry. “The Episcopal Church in the Philippines has learned how to maximize its assets, and as a result, it is experiencing new life.”

For the Rev. Thomas Maddela, St. Andrew’s registrar and a liturgics professor, the presiding bishop’s visit marked an occasion “to look back at our mother church and to share our stories and our continuing struggles” and to assure the church’s commitment to cooperation.

In the past, he said, the Philippine church reflected the American church’s influence. Autonomy, however, changed that and in 2001, during the church’s centennial celebration, it introduced its version of the Book of Common Prayer, which was revised in 2014 and is now in the process of being translated into four languages.

Increasingly the church reflects the “culture of the people,” said Maddela, in an interview with ENS outside the cathedral.

Curry spent two nights in the Philippines; it was the first time a presiding bishop preached at the cathedral since the late 1980s when Edmond Lee Browning visited. Frank Griswold didn’t visit the Philippines during his term as presiding bishop; Katharine Jefferts Schori visited twice but didn’t preach at the cathedral.

The Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church; Floyd Lalwet, provincial secretary of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines; and Peter Ng, the Episcopal Church’s now-retired officer for Asia and the Pacific, pose for a photo. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“Visits from presiding bishops are very symbolic,” said Lalwet. “Whenever a presiding bishop comes here he or she is considered family, one of us. And the people are so excited.”

Curry’s visit, said Lalwet, also came at a time when Filipinos, some of them frustrated by the actions of the country’s controversial president, Rodrigo Duterte, and his war on drugs, needed to hear a positive message.

On Feb. 17, the day before he preached at the cathedral, Curry gave a keynote address focused on the Jesus Movement to a packed audience of students and seminarians at Trinity University of Asia on the 20th anniversary of the covenant agreement.

“God likes to work through movements of people to change the face of the earth,” he told the students and seminarians, referencing Abraham and Sarah, and Moses.

“Love of God and love of neighbor … that’s a formula for transforming the world,” said Curry, as he walked across the stage. “And you’ve got to love God because that’s the source from whom you are made.”

“Following the way of Jesus sets folk free, and it brings folk together … The truth is we are one in Jesus Christ, and that’s a message not just for the church but the world.”

Curry’s address stirred applause from the crowd. The students and seminarians were “very excited,” said the Rev. Gloria Mapangdol, dean of St. Andrew’s Seminary. “It was the first time they’d heard ‘an evangelist’ talk like that.”

His message resonated with seminarians – 48 total, 19 females — who are required to apply what they learn in the classroom to their field work, said Mapangdol.

In Manila, Curry also visited the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, or the Philippine Independent Church, a full-communion partner with the Episcopal Church since 1961.

It was a blessing, said Curry, for him to visit the IFI, a church rooted in revolution.

“God came among us as the person of Jesus to start a revolution,” said Curry. “The IFI is a church crusading for justice.”

-Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service.  

Immigration forum at Houston cathedral addresses immigrant concerns

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 3:34pm

Lawyers, community and religious leaders participate in immigration forum at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston. Photo: Diocese of Texas

[Episcopal Diocese of Texas] In an effort to educate and assist the immigrant community of Houston, Christ Church Cathedral held an immigration forum with attorneys and community leaders to inform immigrants of their rights and to discuss the Trump administration’s new focus on deportations.

The forum was hosted by the Rev. Simón Bautista, canon missioner for latino ministries and outreach at the cathedral.

Recent executive orders, as well as Texas State Senate Bill 4, will require all Texas law enforcement agencies to comply with U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) agents. The move is provoking anxiety among a vulnerable population of immigrants in the U.S. without documentation who fear being profiled under what is effectively a sanctuary city ban.

“Bishop Andy Doyle, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and Christ Church Cathedral welcome everyone. This is a place blessed by your presence,” said the Rev. Barkley S. Thompson, dean of Christ Church Cathedral.

Getting advice from lawyers instead of notaries, carrying up-to-date identification and calling state legislators to ask them to vote against SB 4 were the key pieces of advice given by the panel.

“Have doubts of the news you see and read on social media. It is better to get your information from your consulate,” said Ignacio Pinto-León, a Houston attorney.

During a Q&A, participants asked the experts about their particular cases. Many wondered how long it would take for their petitions for permanent residency to be approved because they wanted a way to work towards American citizenship. Others attended the forum to be informed and to help family members and friends.

“The recent political (actions) have put everyone on edge because it puts people that are undocumented in a fearful state,” said Fabian Berrios, a member of San Mateo, Bellaire. “It’s important to stay informed and help those who are seeking assistance.

The Rev. Willie Bennett, an organizer with The Metropolitan Organization, encourages immigrants to talk to their clergy and express their worry.

“It is going to take a diverse community such as the one here at Christ Church Cathedral to teach and share the reality of what we are going through. I challenge you to share your story—it’s the only way we can make a change long term,” Bennett said.

“The value of these informational forums is that they offer a unique opportunity (for) people to hear credible information about their concerns, their issues, their personal cases or of their acquaintances,” Bautista said. “These forums unite religious and community organizations, consulates and lawyers in one place for one common interest. We, at the cathedral, are proud to be able to collaborate in these offerings.”

Read article in Spanish here.

Episcopal, Lutheran leaders in the U.S. and Canada issue Ash Wednesday message on refugees

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 2:15pm

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry joined March 1 with Anglican and Lutheran leaders in North America in issuing an Ash Wednesday message titled “Remember the Refugees and Migrants.”

Curry joined Anglican Church of Canada Primate Fred Hiltz, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada National Bishop Susan C. Johnson, in sending the message. 

The following is the full text of the message:

“On this day many people will participate in a liturgy including the Imposition of Ashes.  Some presiders blot these ashes upon our foreheads and we are reminded that we are but dust and to dust shall we return.  Others trace them upon our forehead in the sign of the cross, a reminder of the place to where the Lenten journey takes us.  Even at the outset of this holy season we are reminded that while for some the cross is a stumbling block and for others mere foolishness, it is for those who are being called, the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:23).  Remembering Christ crucified we are mindful not only of our personal need for repentance and renewal in doing the work of God, but indeed of the need of all humanity to repent of our indifference to the brokenness of our relationships, to the suffering of millions of people worldwide who are starving, oppressed, enslaved, or seeking sanctuary even if it be in a place far from their homeland.

“This Lent we call our Churches to be continually mindful of the global refugee and migration crises, and the injustices and conflicts that have swelled the statistics to a number greater than ever in the history of the world.  We acknowledge the good work done by so many of our synods and dioceses and parishes in sponsoring refugees, welcoming them, accompanying them and advocating for them as they settle in our countries.  Similarly, we commend the compassionate work of our partner churches in other lands and intergovernmental bodies caring for migrants and refugees. We call on our Churches not to weary of this good work in the name of God.

“Given the current political climate in the United States, it is important to say that while both our countries recognize the need for measures ensuring homeland security, we also stand up for the long-established policies that welcome migrants and refugees.  That is not to say any of them are not beyond reform.  But it is to say that fair and generous policies strengthen the economy of our nations and enriches the social and cultural fabric of our countries – a fabric woven by both the First Peoples of these lands and all those who have settled here through numerous waves of migration throughout our histories. 

“Fair and generous action and deliberations are from our perspective, deeply grounded in the Law of Moses, in the teaching of the Prophets and in the Gospel of Jesus.  For some two millennia millions of people have found consolation in the suffering of Jesus upon the cross and in his holy name they have prayed for the compassion and justice of God in the midst of the terrible circumstances of their lives – circumstances that compel them to flee their homelands, making their way over dangerous treks of land. Sometimes they find refuge in new nations and frequently they make their way to ports where they can board vessels and make what are often treacherous voyages in the hope of reaching a land free of the oppression they have known.  Some make it.  Many don’t.

“May this Season of Lent be especially marked by our prayers and advocacy for refugees and migrants – on the run, in United Nations camps, in waiting, in our communities… And let it be marked by a continuing resolve in welcoming the strange in our midst, for such hospitality is in keeping with the faith we proclaim. (Matthew 25:31-40)”

Le Magazine Anglican : merci Luther !

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 11:36am

Les anglicans ont-ils des raisons de dire : merci Luther ? À l’occasion des 500 ans de la Réforme, le Magazine Anglican consacre deux émissions à cette question.

Le premier volet, diffusé le 28  janvier 2017, aborde l’aspect historique : la Réforme anglaise s’est elle inspirée de Luther ?

34 ans après les 95 thèses de Luther, Henry VIII a rompu avec Rome. Mais son souci principal était avant tout d’ordre dynastique.

Rémy Bethmont, professeur d’histoire et civilisation britanniques à l’université de Paris VIII, analyse les différents courants protestants qui ont – ou non – inspiré la Réforme anglaise.

Dès le XVIe siècle, des communautés britanniques ont implanté sur le « continent  » leur façon « d’être église ». Le vénérable Meurig Williams, retrace l’historique de ces relations entre (ce qui est devenu aujourd’hui) le Diocèse en Europe de l’église d’Angleterre  et les églises luthériennes scandinaves et allemandes.

De l’autre côté de l’Atlantique, l’Église Épiscopale / anglicane, est « en pleine communion » avec l’église évangélique luthérienne d’Amérique (ELCA).

Mgr. Pierre Whalon, évêque pour l’Europe de l’Église Épiscopale, explique ce que signifie cette pleine communion et attire notre attention sur deux prières du Livre de prières de l’Église Épiscopale, inspirées de Luther.

Dans le deuxième volet de l’émission, diffusé le 25 février 2017, il est question des similitudes et différences au plan de la doctrine et de la théologie. L’occasion de redécouvrir les deux plus célèbres théologiens anglicans du XVIe siècle : Thomas Cranmer et Richard Hooker.

Les deux volets sont émaillés des témoignages de sept paroissiens de la Cathédrale épiscopale de Paris ravis de pouvoir dire : merci Luther !
Y compris à travers le chant et notamment le plus connu des cantiques composés par Luther (c’est un rempart que notre Dieu) qui figure parmi les hymnes des églises luthérienne et anglicane.

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

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

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

Mark Beckwith calls for election of the next bishop of Newark

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 10:18am

Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith and his wife Marilyn Olson recently welcomed their first grandchild, Benjamin Cooper, born to their daughter Christine and her husband Joe. Photo: Diocese of Newark via Facebook

[Episcopal Diocese of Newark] Episcopal Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith Feb. 28 sent the following letter to the members of the diocese.

Dear members of the Diocese of Newark,

Earlier today I informed the Standing Committee of the Diocese and the Diocesan staff that I am calling for the election of the next Bishop of Newark. Given that the search and call of a bishop takes 18 months, the Presiding Bishop’s office has set a date of September 22, 2018, for the consecration of the 11th bishop of the diocese, shortly after I turn 67. When I came to the diocese as bishop, I had made a commitment to my family and myself that I would serve as Diocesan Bishop for ten years. It will end up being nearly twelve. I intend to be fully engaged as Bishop until the time of my successor’s consecration.

It has been an enormous privilege to serve as Bishop of this extraordinary diocese for the past ten years. The gift of serving the people and congregations of the Diocese of Newark has been an incredible blessing to me. I have learned so much about God, God’s people and myself. I have been cherished and challenged; and I have been warmly welcomed and cautiously greeted – all of which is part and parcel of what it means to be a vital community of faith.

I look forward to continuing the journey with you for the next year and a half. We have much to do as God’s people – as we listen to scripture, each other, our communities and the Holy Spirit to help us fashion a new way of living, grounded in the Gospel and rooted in our faith. The collective energy generated from Going Local clergy and congregations, from the fall Listening Tables, from Diocesan Convention and from the growing commitment to engage in disciplined listening, says to me that more and more people and congregations are shaping and being shaped by the journey. We are learning as we go – all the while inviting others to join and offer their creativity and imagination. My hope and prayer is that the process of electing the next bishop will be an invitation to join the diocese on this journey of Joining God in Shaping our Future, offering his or her gifts and wisdom as we continue to see what God is up to.

I don’t have any definitive plans after September 22 of next year, other than to have more available time to be a grandfather and get to Fenway Park. That said, my continuing experience here in the diocese has inspired me to discern new ways of joining God in God’s work. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for learning – here in this diocese, how important that has become.

Peace,

Mark

There’s an Oklahoma app for that!

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 9:45am

[Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma] In the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, mission and ministry appear in many forms.

Whether it’s All Saints’ in Miami’s Teacher’s Toolbox (providing a school supplies bank to support local teachers); St. Christopher’s in Midwest City’s Disaster Response Team (serving those affected by disasters with their on-the-go-trailer stocked with tools for any type of potential disaster); All Saints’ in Duncan’s Food for the Poor program (collecting and donating supplies to help support their neighbors who have fallen on challenging times); or any of the other amazing ministries happening every day in Oklahoma, one thing is clear. Mission and ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma are always on the move.

Therefore, in order to serve the mission and ministry of the diocese more fully, Diocesan Communications Director Nicole Baxley designed a communication tool; one that would support them, and provide tools and resources where they need them, on the move.

The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma app serves as a multi-way communication ministry tool designed to help strengthen the diocesan community, provide new avenues for sharing stories of ministry and mission, and engage in spirituality together in new ways. The app includes everything from highlighting communities (congregations, schools, institutions, etc.) in the diocese with their relevant contact information, to sharing upcoming events, ministry stories, and announcements. It provides a hub for sharing diocesan communication, such as photo galleries, videos, and links to the diocesan social media accounts. It also has tools designed specifically to help those in the diocese share their ministry stories, events, announcements, and feedback directly with the diocese, by using channels such as “submit photos,” “talk to us” and “app feedback.”

This new ministry tool, like any other, is designed to highlight and support the extremely active mission and ministry happening all across the state of Oklahoma and throughout the diocese. It is designed to provide an avenue for people across the diocese to engage in community growth, spiritual development, and engagement with each other regardless of geographic barriers. It is designed to help make it a little easier for the diocese to be the Church together, even when members are miles apart.

In the first 24 hours after launching the app, it was downloaded nearly 200 times. In addition, just like the mission and ministry the app is designed to serve, this tool will continue to grow and evolve as future needs and opportunities are identified.

Now Episcopalians in the Diocese of Oklahoma who are serving in ministry, searching for resources, or sharing their story, they’ll hear a new phrase following right along with the diocesan mission statement: “Our mission is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ…and there’s an app for that!”

Dominican Republic bishop announces retirement

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 9:01am

[Diocese of the Dominican Republic] The Rt. Rev. Julio C. Holguín, bishop of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic since 1991, announced during the February diocesan convention that he plans to retire on Nov. 1, 2017. Subject to approval by the Episcopal House of Bishops, the Rt. Rev. Moisés Quezada, currently serving as bishop coadjutor, will replace  Holguín on that date. Quezada’s seating as bishop diocesan is tentatively scheduled to be held at Epiphany Cathedral in Santo Domingo on Nov. 4, 2017.

Quezada was elected on July 25, 2015, and ordained and consecrated bishop coadjutor on Feb. 13, 2016. 

California bishop responds to anti-Semitic cemetery desecrations, bomb threats

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 8:44am

[Diocese of California] The following is a statement from the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, bishop of California.

On behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of California, I want to extend my heartfelt condolences to the families and communities affected by the desecration of the Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia on Sunday and in St. Louis last week. The incidents come as Jewish community centers and schools around the country are experiencing an unprecedented wave of bomb threats and evacuations. In the Bay Area on Monday, bomb threats were called into the Anti-Defamation League in San Francisco and the Jewish Community Centers in Palo Alto and San Rafael. 

The sight of toppled grave markers and frightened community center workers evacuating their buildings is a chilling reminder of the climate of hate that ushered in the murder of six million Jewish people during World War II. While we in the United States may not be standing on the precipice of another holocaust, a repeat of that horrific chapter in history is not out of the question if hateful acts go unacknowledged and unchecked.

As Episcopalians and Christians, we have long considered ourselves part of a larger family that includes Jewish people and Muslim people — who are also under threat. They are our siblings with whom we share much of our history and recognize common threads in our faith traditions. In that context, an act of hate against one of us is an affront to all. I urge all members of the Episcopal Diocese of California to reach out to our Jewish and Muslim neighbors and look for new ways to speak out and stand in solidarity. We have greater strength when we stand together. I encourage you to visit your local synagogue or mosque and ask how you can support them. Your local Jewish Community Center likely offers classes, guest lectures, and rich cultural programs open to all — please show you are a supportive member of the community. Here at the Diocese of California, we remain committed to our partnership with the San Francisco Interfaith Council, a prominent voice against discrimination and hate. Please support them and pray for their work at this crucial time in our nation’s history.  

Faithfully,
The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus
Bishop of California