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Updated: 53 min 56 sec ago

Applications accepted for DFMS positions

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 2:40pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Applications are now being accepted for the full-time Mission Associate for Justice and Advocacy Ministries on the staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) as well as three positions in Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM).

These positions reflect the priorities of Episcopal Church General Convention 2012 and focuses on the Five Marks of Mission.

The Mission Associate for Justice and Advocacy Ministries will be based at the Church Center in New York City. Position information is located here.

The EMM positions are:
Manager of Communication; position information here.

Program Associate- Refugee Resettlement, based at the Church Center in New York City; position information here.

Program Associate – Refugee Resettlement based at the Church Center in New York City; position information here.

Information on all available positions as well as application instructions is available here.

For more information contact a member of the Episcopal Church Human Resources Team at HRM@episcopalchurch.org.

Scholarship applications now accepted for Episcopal Church grants

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 1:51pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release]  Applications are now being accepted for the 2014-2015 awarding of educational scholarships from The Episcopal Church, according to Samuel A. McDonald, Director of Mission/Deputy Chief Operating Officer and convener of the Scholarship Committee.

“As a result of bequests, The Episcopal Church makes available a modest number of scholarships that assist students primarily enrolled in theological education and training,” explained Margareth Crosnier de Bellaistre, Episcopal Church Director of Investment Management and Banking  “Funding for the program is derived from annual income of designated trust funds established by generous donors.”

Scholarships are available for ethnic communities, children of missionaries, bishops and clergy, and other particular wide-ranging eligibility for education and training.

The amounts of the scholarships vary according to the availability of payouts from the funds.  The maximum is $5000.

The lists of trust funds and scholarships as well as key information are here. Applicants are strongly encouraged to read each trust and identify in the application those trust funds that best fit their own profile.

Requirements for applying for the scholarships include: the applicant must be an Episcopalian, must be a member of The Episcopal Church, and must have the endorsement of his/her bishop.

Application form is available here.

Applications are reviewed by a scholarship committee which includes The Episcopal Church Director of Mission, the Director of Human Resources Management, representatives of various ministries, and the Treasurer’s office.

Deadline for applications is April 30. Only complete applications will be considered.

For information contact Terry Foster, tfoster@episcopalchurch.org

Office of Finance issues updated report

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 11:46am

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Office of Finance has issued an updated report on budget and investments.

N. Kurt Barnes, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, announced that the nearly all of the dioceses have committed to The Episcopal Church.

“We now have 108 dioceses and regional areas (of 111) which have indicated and signed commitments for 2014 totaling $26.8 million,” Barnes said.  “The revised budget assumed $25,885,000.”

Based on the preliminary Operating results for 2013, he noted:
• Contributions have been received from some diocese that had not indicated commitments.
• The lease of the Second Floor added income not originally budgeted.
• The Refugee Travel Loan Collections staff exceeded expectations.
• Mission expenses were held to about 90% of budget and were further offset by modest income recoveries.
• Governance expenses were similarly about 90% of budget and were further offset by insurance recoveries and by fees from ordination exams.
• Administrative expense exceeded budget due primarily to costs associated with churchwide conflict resolution under legal and relocation analyses in response to directives from Executive Council.

“Overall,” Barnes said, “taking advantage of opportunities for revenue generation plus careful expense control produced a better result than budgeted.  We will continue to emphasize that while we cannot control income, we can control expenses.”

Investment news
Barnes continued that the DFMS has experienced exceptional performance of the Society’s trust funds – 7.5% annual returns since 2003 after all fees and expenses, ranking us in the top 1% of all foundations and endowments with assets greater than $50 million.

He pointed out that any Episcopal parish, diocese or other Episcopal-affiliated organization is welcome to co-invest in the DFMS trust portfolio, as do more than 50 participants in 75 funds.

Summary information is available on the Finance Office website here.

Budgetary information is here.

Marcus Walker named interim associate director, Anglican Centre in Rome

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 10:54am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Rev. Marcus Walker has been appointed Interim Associate Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome from mid-May 2014. The appointment is being made because the Director, Archbishop David Moxon, has recently taken on additional responsibilities working closely with the Vatican as a member of the Executive Board of the Global Freedom Network and it is therefore urgent to provide him with additional support to ensure that the ministry of the Anglican Centre itself also grows and develops.

The Global Freedom Network is a faith-based initiative to eradicate human slavery, strongly supported by the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Associate Director’s role will be to ensure the smooth running of all the Centre’s activities and to support Archbishop Moxon in all aspects of his role as Director of the Anglican Centre.

Marcus Walker (33) is currently curate of St Paul’s, Winchmore Hill in London. Born in Jerusalem, he spent his childhood in the Holy Land, Moscow and Cairo. After reading History at Oxford, where he was President of the Union, he worked as a parliamentary researcher for five years. Marcus’s  training for ordination included a term at the Venerable English College in Rome. He was ordained deacon in 2011 and priest at Petertide 2012.

The appointment of an Interim Associate Director precedes the selection process for a longer-term post of Associate Director with effect from later in the year.

Los Angeles cathedral(s): ‘One ministry in two places’

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 8:47am

This article is the third in a four-part series on the ministry of cathedrals, featuring interviews with their deans. The first article, “Video: Inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, with Dean David Ison” is available here; the second, “Education always a part of Ashton Brooks’ vocation,” is available here. In 2013, ENS also published a series on cathedral deans, available here.

The Cathedral Center of St. Paul is located in the Echo Park area, one of Los Angeles’ most populous neighborhoods. Photo: The Rev. Canon Cindy Voorhees

[Episcopal News Service] The Mediterranean-style Cathedral Center of St. Paul complex overlooks Echo Park Lake in downtown Los Angeles, and is home to St. Athanasius Church, a retreat and conference center, diocesan administrative and ministry hubs, a food bank assisting 300 families weekly and “Seeds of Hope,” an initiative to feed the hungry by converting church properties into farm crops.

Some five miles to the south, near the University of Southern California, the landmark Romanesque-style St. John’s Pro-Cathedral serves as a liturgical setting for large diocesan gatherings, a nucleus for interfaith ministry for the six-county Los Angeles diocese and a spiritual center in the midst of a growing downtown “renaissance.”

Together, they form “one ministry in two places,” according to Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno, who serves as provost of the Cathedral Center. In 2008, he formally named St. John’s as the pro-cathedral, which means it is a parish church with some cathedral functions, such as hosting the January ordinations of 10 priests, which drew 800 people; the Cathedral Center’s St. Athanasius church seats about 200.

“I wanted them [St. John’s] to be open to being the liturgical hub of the diocese, where we did ordinations … and to hold other large services” which couldn’t be accommodated at the Cathedral Center, Bruno said.

The Very Rev. Mark Kowalewski calls St. John’s Pro-Cathedral a “house of prayer” for all people.
Photo: Janet Kawamoto

The Very Rev. Canon Mark Kowalewski, dean and rector, says he considers St. John’s “the bishop’s pulpit” and a liturgical and worship space for the diocese, as well as “a house of prayer for all people.”

The two churches are “complementary, and the important thing for me, is they’re both inner city spaces, looking out on the world from where they are, doing exciting ministry,” Bruno said.

Cathedral as community center
Bruno’s Feb. 9, 2002 formal seating as sixth bishop of Los Angeles telegraphed his cathedral vision. He held the ceremony outdoors, across the street from the cathedral center complex, with a thousand Episcopalians, community officials and guests circling Echo Park Lake, holding hands.

He’d spent the previous eight years there as dean and provost (a title he retains) engaging gang diversion, economic justice, HIV/AIDS, interfaith, homeless and other ministries in the community, which is a stone’s throw from both Dodger Stadium and Chinatown.

Echo Park includes one of L.A.’s most populous working class and ethnically diverse neighborhoods, and some gang violence. It has also been, at times, home to the likes of actor Leonardo DiCaprio, musician Jackson Browne and film director John Huston. And the Cathedral Center has been home to community concerts, art exhibits, and spiritual direction led by diocesan writer-in-residence Malcolm Boyd.

All of which has meant trying to “meet the needs of the community in intelligent ways,” said Bruno. The Episcopal Community Federal Credit Union, for example, was founded there in 1992 and has provided financial education and community development, seed money for local small businesses, low-risk loans and relief for those trapped in the vicious cycle of payday lending.

The congregation of St. Athanasius, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, holds Spanish, Korean and English-language worship services and is overseen by the Rev. Frank Alton, priest-in-charge. Among the oldest houses of worship in Los Angeles, St. Athanasius held its first service Christmas Day, 1864; its first building was located near today’s city hall and predates the diocese by about 30 years.

The first rector gained notoriety for his public eulogy for Abraham Lincoln, and the congregation helped establish Good Samaritan Hospital in 1886. The hospital made history a century later with the world’s first live birth from a frozen embryo and has been named one of “America’s Best Hospitals for Top Medical Care in 16 Specialties” by U.S. News and World Report.

There is precedent for pro-cathedrals in the diocese.

Bruno noted that L.A.’s first bishop, Joseph Horsfall Johnson, gave that designation in 1899 to St. Paul’s, renamed when some St. Athanasius members erected a church at a new location, now the site of the Biltmore Hotel. Later, a newly built St. Paul’s was dedicated as the first cathedral, but eventually earthquake damage forced demolition of that building.

Another branch of the congregation in 1899 reclaimed the name St. Athanasius and in 1917, moved to the Echo Park location where the Cathedral Center of St. Paul is now located, uniting both congregations.

Los Angeles-area Episcopalians will revisit that history and envision future ministry during the Dec. 5-6 annual convention meeting of the diocese, themed “Horizons and Heritage.”

The 2008 dedication of St. John’s as pro-cathedral “has been a good balance and use of space,” Bruno said. “Neither site is totally overtaxed; it provides what the diocese needs and, God knows, this diocese needs more than one space to do ministry. It’s a model for future collaborative ministry.”

St. John’s Pro-Cathedral is positioning itself to be part of “the new downtown” a renaissance of change happening in Los Angeles.
Photo: Chris Tumilty

St. John’s: Radical hospitality, a ‘house of prayer’ for all
The ministry of St. John’s as a pro-cathedral “challenges all of us to radical hospitality … which fits well with our spirituality of mission, seeking to proclaim Christ and God’s kingdom outside the doors of the church and welcome all who come to us,” Kowalewski said when the congregation was contemplating the 2008 change.

Currently, the Guibord Center, a nonprofit ministry dedicated to furthering interfaith and ecumenical understanding and collaboration, is headquartered there.

“Churches have to think about our spaces more creatively,” Kowalewski said recently. “How do we take buildings that for years were used only for Sundays and major liturgical celebrations and are beautiful and large and rework them in such a way to be multi-purpose environments, not just for worship but social gatherings and arts events and all of those sorts of things?

“I don’t think the church is at a place anymore that we can allow these edifices to go unused to the extent they have historically,” he added. “It’s incumbent to rethink how to use our church buildings in more creative ways.”

Listed on the national register of historic landmarks, St. John’s was first organized as a congregation in 1890. The original church was built the same year, a wood-shingled Gothic revival style building in an orange grove on the city’s edge, next door to the present location on West Adams Blvd.

Then, St. John’s – modeled after the 11th century San Pietro church in Tuscania, about 75 miles northeast of Rome – was located in one of the city’s premiere neighborhoods, Kowalewski said.

But over time, the population shifted, and the congregation became increasingly diverse, including predominantly African Americans, people from the African diaspora and the LGBT community, he said.

Now, drawing increasingly from the university community and with yet another demographic shift underway, St. John’s is again contemplating creative ministry and use of building space while positioning itself as part of a new “downtown renaissance.”

Included in that creative ministry is a leadership sharing with the Rev. Daniel Ade that, Kowalewski said, is in many ways like job sharing. They consider themselves co-deans – with vestry approval after a two-year trial period. They share responsibilities for oversight of St. John’s, pastoral and other ministries.

In the context of community, it just makes sense, Ade said. “It’s part of the priest’s job anywhere to lift up gifts of other people,” he said. “Mark is an extraordinary teacher; it’s not my best skill so I rejoice in that. I think that’s great so let me take some things off your plate so you can be your best at that.”

At the same time, sharing the ministry affords him the opportunity to reinvent a vision for his own ministry: “for a long time, I was point person for buildings and grounds. I just came back from sabbatical and said I’d like to do some other things, newcomer incorporation because you can burn out on something. I felt like I want to have a new vision, to do more pastoral care. It gives us freedom to move the pieces around here.”

It is similar to co-rectorships in that “canonically speaking, there is the office of the rector and two people who share that ministry. We see ourselves that way. For example, if we were in a vestry meeting and there was a need to vote and the rector’s vote needed to be cast, we would have one vote, not two.” If they disagree, “we talk it out in the context of community,” he said.

St. John’s is known as “liturgically funky in some ways, and in other ways, very conservative theologically“ and is preparing to replace church pews with stackable chairs, according to Ade.

The liturgically “funky” part means: “The bishop has given us permission to borrow from the whole banquet of our liturgical tradition and from Jewish tradition, evangelical Protestantism, and from the Roman Catholic Church,” Ade said.

Each week in Lent, for example, the congregation gathers at the baptismal font at the church entryway for intercessions and catechumens are blessed. All Souls celebrations have incorporated, from Latin American traditions, ‘Dia de los Muertos’ altars crowded with mementos acknowledging that loved ones “are in Christ’s care”, as well as the recitation of the Kaddish, the Jewish prayers for the dead.

Recently, St. John’s hosted a two-week theatrical run of “the Elephant Man” and has named the Ensemble “N2K” — Juilliard-trained musicians Katherine Cash and the Rev. Norm Freeman — as artists-in-residence.

And, when local officials dedicated a nearby rail transit station on a Sunday, “the entire congregation processed with incense and holy water, and blessed the station and trains as they came by.”

Once again, the duality of pro-cathedral and community church is present as the congregation grapples with “opening up its identity” in the face of 21st century realities, Kowalewski said.

“We think one of the things about the new downtown is that it also is very diverse population and that’s what’s exciting about St. John’s, too,” he said.

“We try to intentionally create a community that is culturally diverse. We are trying to have a progressive social witness that the Episcopal Church is great at, on the one hand. But, also to present it in the way we present the Gospel of Jesus Christ — in a clear way and not an apologetic way – that gives people something to believe in as well, so that the social witness comes out of a clear proclamation of the Kingdom of God and the Gospel.”

– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

San Joaquin: David Rice elected, seated as bishop provisional

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 3:41am

Bishop David Rice and wife Tracy greet well-wishers outside St. Paul’s Church in Bakersfield after he was formally seated as bishop provisional of the Diocese of San Joaquin. Photo: The Rev. Richard Snyder

[Episcopal News Service] In the midst of hundreds of applauding and cheering supporters and well-wishers, the Rt. Rev. David Rice was formally seated March 29 as bishop provisional of the Diocese of San Joaquin in California’s Central Valley.

“I am truly excited about experiencing the many ways in which Episcopalians in San Joaquin will continue to join in and respond to the extraordinary things that God is already doing in the lives of the people of this valley,” said Rice, before the overflow gathering at St. Paul’s Church in Bakersfield. He had been elected at a special convention earlier in the day.

Guest preacher at the festal Eucharist celebrating Rice’s election was Archbishop Philip Richardson of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, who said he brought a message “to the Diocese of San Joaquin and the wider Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. that the bonds of affection between us are important and strong.”

When Rice and his wife Tracy were called from New Zealand to San Joaquin, it “felt like losing a member of the family,” said Richardson, who is also the bishop of Taranaki. He added that now they are serving another part of the extended family, which is the Anglican Communion.

“In our province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia there is an important obligation that we have to members of our extended family – whenever any member of that extended family begins something new or goes to a new place, other members of the family (whanau) go with them to support them and to present them to the people of the place they go to,” Richardson said.

“So that is part of why we come to support our friends and to hand them into the care of those who will receive them.”

Other guests included Bishop of Auckland Ross Bay, a friend and colleague, who said he was excited to support Rice’s next chapter.

“David has a great capacity to befriend people and inspire them through the relationships that he forms. He has a wonderful vision for the ways in which the mission of God can be worked out through the life of the church. He is a hopeful person who imagines a wonderful future for God’s church. I am excited with him for the opportunities that lie ahead in San Joaquin.”

Vicar General Brian Hamilton of the Diocese of Waiapu, where Rice had served previously as bishop, said the diocesan Standing Committee had voted to send him to the seating, “to express the esteem in which he is held and our gratefulness for his ministry among us.”

“We are sorry to lose him but our loss is your gain,” Hamilton said. “He brings energy, an understanding of the needs of today’s church, and the vision and insight needed to lead your church. I wish you every blessing in your life and work together.”

Rice, who was born and raised in North Carolina, served as a Methodist pastor for eight years prior to his ordination in the Anglican Church of New Zealand. He served in parishes and as dean of Dunedin Cathedral in the Diocese of Dunedin, before his 2008 election as bishop of Waiapu.

He and wife Tracy, a family therapist, returned to the United States because of family commitments. Their children – Ian, 20, and Zoe, 18 – will remain as students in New Zealand for the time being.

Rice succeeds Bishop Chet Talton, retired suffragan of Los Angeles, who was elected in 2011 to serve the San Joaquin diocese as bishop provisional.

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is composed of 19 congregations in the California’s Central Valley.

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia comprises 13 dioceses representing the European, Maori and Polynesian peoples.

–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.

Archbishop of Canterbury hosts gathering of religious communities

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 6:59am

[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is today welcoming over 100 members of a broad range of Anglican religious communities to Lambeth Palace to discuss the renewal of Religious Life within the Church.

The conference will bring together members of diverse religious communities – some centuries old, others newly emerging – that are bound together by a common commitment to prayer, community living, and a radical service of Christ, often in demanding social contexts.

The event marks a significant early step towards Archbishop Justin’s vision for the renewal of prayer and the Religious Life, which he has declared as a core priority for his ministry. The Archbishop will give a keynote address later this morning in which he will set out his vision to explain and encourage those gathered.

The conference, ‘Religious Life and Renewal: Exploring Roots and Shoots’, has three aims: to give members of religious communities around the country an opportunity to interact with Archbishop Justin’s vision for the renewal of Religious Life; to receive affirmation and build vision together; and to seek to reinvigorate and reimagine connections between religious communities and the church’s structures.

It follows the Archbishop welcoming four members of the international ecumenical community Chemin Neuf to live at Lambeth Palace in February. The community members support the daily life of prayer at Lambeth Palace, ensuring the Archbishop’s work is grounded in prayer, and praying especially for the unity of the Church.

Archbishop Justin said: “I am thrilled that people from communities in all corners of our country are gathering to talk and listen – and be inspired by the Spirit of God. Some of them may not look like conventional monks or nuns – but all of them are people I admire very deeply. They are those who have committed themselves to Jesus in radical and costly ways – without whom our church would be diminished both in depth and breath.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Chaplain, the Revd Dr Jo Wells, said: “Future generations may look back and say, ‘In those early decades of the 21st century, the Church blossomed thanks to the growth of religious communities.’ They are bubbling up in surprising places, occasionally despite rather than because of our church, and

Archbishop Justin is keen to ensure that they are celebrated and encouraged.

“I see them as a very modern icon for something most of us long for – for spirituality which is embodied and earthed; for integrity which is transparent and focused; for relationships which are deep and inclusive, often engaged with those in our society in deep poverty and need.”

The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, who chairs the Advisory Council on the Relations between Bishops and Religious Communities, said: “It is hugely moving to see passion and wisdom being shared between newly emerging religious orders and those that grew up in the Church of England in the last two centuries. Both are living the Christian life in a deep discipline of prayer and community-belonging, a discipline that for many provides the energy and inspiration both for radical living and for mission and ministry in the most demanding contexts.”

NOTES:

1.       The phrase ‘the Religious Life’ refers to the shared life of religious communities which are devoted to simple lives of work, study and prayer and live by a shared ‘rule’ which helps members to support one another to each new depths of love and obedience in their lives of faith.

2.       Read more about the Archbishop Justin’s commitment to a renewal of prayer and the Religious Life within the Church: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/pages/roles-and-priorities.html

3.       Archbishop Justin’s keynote address will be available to read on www.archbishopofcanterbury.org next week

Anglican Church of Tanzania mourns the passing of Bishop Mhogolo

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 6:51am

Photo: Richard Schori

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church of Tanzania is mourning the loss of Bishop Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo of the Diocese of Central Tanganyika. Mhogolo served his diocese since his consecration in 1989 with distinction and dedication. He died following a severe infection in his lungs in hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Mhogolo was an able theologian with a remarkable intellect. He studied theology at St. Philip’s Kongwa and in Australia, but he will be best remembered for his energy and drive. He gave purpose and direction to his diocese and inspired those around him to do great things. The Diocese of Central Tanganyika was very large and his predecessor – the late Bishop Yohana Madinda – had begun the task of enabling the emergence of new dioceses. Mhogolo took this further as a sign of success as the number of churches and Anglican Christians grew in the Dodoma region.

Theological education was a priority for Mhogolo, who considered the formation of new leaders as something vital for the church. The development of the Diocese of Central Tanganyika depended on good leadership and during his time the Bible School at Msalato developed into a Theological College of substance and significance in Tanzania with a reputation for excellence throughout the Anglican Communion. He also relied on great leadership to run the health facilitates and schools in his diocese and supported all who worked in serving the Lord. He was active in enabling local congregations in the rapidly developing city of Dodoma and throughout the rural areas of the diocese.

With his Wife Irene, the bishop championed the full equality of women, encouraging their empowerment through the Women’s Union. He was the first Tanzanian bishop to ordain women and championed their development in the church. He was a fiery opponent of Female Genital Mutilation and encouraged programs aimed at ending the practice.

During the 1990s, Mhogolo was recruited by Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey to participate in the design Group for the 1998 Lambeth Conference. He was already known in many places and he had a deep knowledge of the Anglican Communion. He developed many friendships and partnerships with Anglican churches across the world.

(The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Tanzania have historic ties through companion diocese relationships, missionary work, and relief and development projects. In particular, a partnership between the dioceses of New York and Central Tanganyika, known as the Carpenter’s Kids Program, links parishes in a mutual relationship of prayer, communication, and support on behalf of the more than 2.5 million AIDS orphans in Tanzania. The Diocese of Atlanta also shares a companion relationship with the Diocese of Central Tanganyika.)

The bishop’s significance in Tanzania was marked by the president visiting him in hospital. He was a voice of peace and toleration in the great tradition of Tanzanian leaders.

Archbishop Jacob Chimeledya said: “Bishop Mhogolo was a key figure in the history of the ACT. He lived what he believed and was always honest, ready to speak the truth and challenge us all. He was also a man with a sense of joy who could lift us all with his sense of humor. We will miss him deeply.’

Canon Dickson Chilongani, the provincial secretary for the ACT, said, “We ask all in the Anglican Communion to remember his wife Irene and his children Nyemo, Lisa and Wendo and their families in your prayers as well as all his friends in Tanzania.’

The date of the funeral will be arranged over the coming days.

Video: Father Harry Neeley fashions a ministry out of firewood

Thu, 03/27/2014 - 1:07pm
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[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Harry Neeley has spent 20 years ministering to the clients of the Tri Parish Wood Bank and the volunteers who help run the Dillon, Montana-based program.

Wood bank’s unique ministry warms those left in the Montana cold

Thu, 03/27/2014 - 9:48am

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[Episcopal News Service – Dillon, Montana] When winter drove snow and cold up against the Continental Divide in southwestern Montana this season, the arrival of the self-proclaimed Woodchucks or Woodchicks with a load of firewood from the Tri Parish Wood Bank was a welcome sight.

Many congregations run food banks or feeding programs, but the wood bank, a cooperative project of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Dillon, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Virginia City and Christ Church in Sheridan is one of only a handful of such ministries in the Episcopal Church. The program, based out of St. James, is 20 years old this winter.

“We’re commissioned to serve and commanded to love and this is how we do it,” the Rev. Sue Eades, rector of St. James, said recently while volunteers using chain saws and two log splitters cut up some of the last wood remaining in the ministry’s Dillon work site.

“It’s just a blessing to everyone to be able to serve those who otherwise might not be warm in the winter – couldn’t afford to heat their house,” Eades said of the three-parish partnership. “It brings us all together in the name of Christ without arguing over theology or piety or whatever.”

For St. Paul’s in Virginia City, which holds the distinction of being the first Episcopal congregation in the state, the wood bank is proof that a small church can have a big ministry.

“We’re the only church in town and we have 18 people attend – 18 to 20 – through the winter, which is great because we’ve had four to six for many years,” said Micki Benedict, a member of St. Paul’s and a Woodchick. “It’s a way for us to show our little community that we’re not just here to have the Eucharist every Sunday or to have coffee hour; we’re here to help anybody that we can help.”

Figures aren’t in for 2014, but last year the Rev. Harry Neeley, an 80-year-old priest who runs the ministry despite calling himself retired, and 100 volunteers brought 296 cords of wood to 644 people, along with 82 dozen eggs and 200 hats and mittens. The volunteers delivered those supplies during 196 trips to people in 16 towns. In addition, three families anonymously donated $3,000 to provide wood bank clients with school needs, food and Christmas gifts.

During January and February of this year, Neeley said, the wood bank set records for deliveries as blizzards and extended periods of below-zero weather – and the spike in propane prices across the West – made the need for wood even more acute. The volunteers have been delivering to “people that we’ve never seen before,” he said.

About 10,000 people are scattered over about 10,000 square miles of the wood bank’s territory that runs from Wisdom in the west 100 miles east to Virginia City and from Monida on the Montana-Idaho border north 100 miles to Waterloo. Montanans like to say that their state is “high, wide and handsome” and the wood bank’s range is home to huge ranches, world-class trout fishing – and the environmental legacy of the gold rush era. The 20-mile drive from Sheridan to Virginia City reveals hill upon hill of tailings left behind by miners who labored in the 1860s and beyond along Alder Creek.

The wood bank’s clients, 60 percent of whom heat only with wood, rank mainly in the lower five percent of family or household income the area. They range in age from infants to a 95-year-old woman who cooks on a woodstove. She is one of two clients who uses wood to cook.

People are referred to the ministry by area social service agencies plus word of mouth. Generally, clients need to meet federal food assistance eligibility requirements, although Neeley says that “as a Christian organization we make allowances.”

Tri Parish Wood Bank volunteers use log splitters to break up some of the last firewood of the ministry’s 2013-2014 winter season. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS

“In the name of Christ, helping keep warm those who live in the shadow of the American dream,” is the wood bank’s mission statement.

“And we’ve really tried to live up to that and live into that both,” Neeley said as he drove in one of the wood bank’s trucks between Dillon and the ministry’s other work site in Sheridan. And the volunteers aren’t just Episcopalians, he added, listing “atheists and Presbyterians and Baptists and Methodists and Catholics.”

The 112 wood bank volunteers who worked in 2013 put in 3,546 hours of labor, according to the ministry’s annual report. The wood bank has no paid personnel. Someone, often Neeley, can be reached for help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year via a cellphone that rotates among the volunteers.

Some of those work hours have been logged by young people with court-ordered community service requirements and participants in the Dillon-based Youth Challenge Academy, a National Guard-run program for high school dropouts.

Many wood bank clients also provide hands-on support, either by coming to collect donated wood or by helping to unload it at their homes or at other clients’ homes, according to Head Woodchuck Neeley, who most days can be found on the job in his insulated overalls flecked with sawdust and chainsaw grease.

Sometimes, Neeley said, the clients donate small amounts of money to the ministry. He calls it the alms of the poor because “I know what kind of pocket it’s coming out of.”

While the wood bank’s main financial support comes from the three parishes and the United Way of Beaverhead County, dozens of individuals contribute amounts ranging from those “alms of the poor” to $1,000. A variety of Montana-based foundations also have contributed as has the Diocese of Montana.

United Thank Offering gave the wood bank an $8,500 grant in 2013 that paid for hydraulic lifts on both of the ministry’s delivery trucks, nearly bringing an end to hand unloading (sometimes snow on a truckload means a few logs get frozen to the bed and need personal attention). The UTO grant will also cover the cost of a conveyor to move wood mechanically into the delivery trucks or onto piles at the two work and log-storage sites on the Bump Ranch outside Dillon and by the side of Mill Creek Road outside Sheridan.

The Rev. Harry Neeley says hydraulic lifts for the Tri Parish Wood Bank’s two trucks make deliveries much easier. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS

The communities’ support of the ministry extends beyond those funding agencies. For instance, just before Shrove Tuesday earlier this month, the greeter sign on Stockman Bank in Dillon reminded passersby that proceeds from St. James’ pancake supper that evening would go to the wood bank.

And then there’s the wood itself. The U.S. Forest Service gives the ministry access to harvestable trees through its firewood permit process. A sawmill in Argenta near Dillon donates wood it classifies as waste and the Dillon Tree Board donates any tree it removes from around the city to the wood bank.

Plus, “people just give us gifts of wood,” said Neeley, including a rancher who thinned some stands of trees on his land and donated four logging truck loads of wood. In all, the ministry was gifted with 244 cords of wood in 2013.

The financial and material donations have increased over the years, Neeley said, as the wood bank has gotten “more well-known and more trustworthy.”

And the wood bank has got secular recognition for its ministry. The most recent honor came in early February when the wood bank was one of eight programs and individuals honored by Serve Montana, a volunteer-promotion effort of the state governor’s office.

“It’s just rewarding. I know that Christ has blessed us; we have been blessed in so many ways by financial gifts and recognitions that weren’t sought but given,” Neeley said. “That’s kind of how I measure how we do; how we’re doing with our people that we serve and how we’re viewed in the community and the state. And it’s been good.”

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

EPPN Lenten Series Pt. 4: Supporting peace in the land of the holy one

Thu, 03/27/2014 - 8:52am

SPOTLIGHT ON SECURITY
Alexander D. Baumgarten
Director of Justice and Advocacy Ministries for The Episcopal Church

Almighty God, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquility your dominion may increase, until the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. – Collect for Peace on Good Friday, Book of Common Prayer

Dear Fellow Advocates,

This week we continue our look at the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the difficult issues the parties must confront in coming to a true, just, and lasting peace. Today, we turn our attention to the issue of security.

Before doing so, let us look one more time at negotiations, but not the present ones. Thirty five years ago today, on the White House lawn, the governments of Israel and Egypt signed the peace treaty that resulted from the Camp David negotiations brokered by President Jimmy Carter over the course of many months. In commemoration of the anniversary of a peace deal which still holds to this day, the Israel State Archives today have released for the first time and posted on their website the minutes of the negotiations. The documents are a gripping read, both because they offer a candid look at the parties’ grappling with issues that Israelis, Palestinians, and their American interlocutors are still grappling with today, and because they reveal how, until the very last minute, distrust among the parties nearly scuttled a deal. “How can I make agreement with people I do not trust?” asked Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, while Israeli official (and future Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon noted that it is “strange to belong to a nation which is the only one, maybe in the world, that has to convince [others] of its right to exist and its right for security.”

Yet, as we know now, the parties did come to a lasting peace. Despite various issues each side cited repeatedly as deal-breakers that were “off the table,” eventually the parties walked together – albeit with “pained hearts,” the phrase Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin famously used before the Israeli Knesset in endorsing the deal – into a space in which trust had to prevail because the alternative was a future in the permanent wilderness and isolation of conflict.

Today – as we consider the issue of security in the present negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians – please CLICK HERE to send a short note to your lawmakers reminding them of the historic achievement of 35 years ago today and urging their support for the current Administration in its work to support Israelis and Palestinians in working toward true, just, and lasting peace and security for all.

SECURITY

What is the central issue and why is it important?

In order for a just peace to succeed, both Israel and a future Palestinian state must be able to exist in absolute security and autonomy, unthreatened militarily – not just in the short term but permanently – by their neighbors. Israel, which has faced persistent threats to its existence through military violence and terrorism during its 66-year history and the present, must receive the universal recognition of its Arab neighbors, including a future Palestinian state, and an agreement that will protect it from all violent threats. Palestinians must receive, as we examined last week, permanent and universally recognized borders to a viable and contiguous state whose citizens are able to live their lives with the freedom and dignity that is not compromised by the present reality of conflict and occupation.

What is the history?

In some ways, this is the most complicated piece of all, and one that involves the conflicting narratives of two peoples that the most recent General Convention specifically has urged Episcopalians to consider. We will, later this spring, present a more comprehensive look at the history of the conflict and the narratives of the different parties. As noted above, threats to Israel’s security have been a constant of its nearly seven-decade existence, though the nature of these threats has varied greatly from 1948 to the present. Similarly, violence by Palestinians and Israelis against one another has been a constant of the conflict, though it too has looked very different at different times. What is important to consider right now is the present reality of security, and how Israelis and Palestinians see that moving forward.

What is the Israeli view of the present reality and the future?

Israel, citing decades of hostility from its neighbors dating to its original independence and ongoing violence against its citizens, has placed paramount concern in negotiations on the security of the state and its people. While Israel now enjoys peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, two of its once-most-formidable foes, and while other neighboring states have endorsed the Arab Peace Initiative, it continues to face substantial threat from other neighbors and continuing violence against its civilians, particularly from the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip. Accordingly, Israel has taken the position entering negotiations that it should retain a military presence in the Jordan Valley to defend against potential threats from the east. It has also demanded the demilitarization of a future Palestinian state, and defended its placement of the Separation Barrier on the Palestinian side of the Green Line in certain places, as necessities to protect its cities. On the other hand, opinion in both Israeli government and military circles has, in recent years, increasingly come to recognize that a permanent peace agreement with Palestinians and other Arab neighbors will be far more effective in safeguarding Israel’s long-security than territorial control.

What is the Palestinian view of the present reality and the future?

The Palestinian National Authority, meanwhile, has recognized Israel’s existence and right to security, dramatically and (by most accounts) proficiently increased its own security cooperation with Israel in recent years, and significantly controlled violence against Israelis originating in the West Bank. It has emphasized, however, that the safeguarding of Israel’s security in a long-term peace agreement cannot trump the sovereignty, contiguity, or viability of a future Palestinian state. Moreover, Palestinians have rejected the notion of a continued Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley or any of its territory, the routing of the separation barrier on the Palestinian side of the Green line, or any other security measure that would compromise Palestinian freedom of movement within its own territory.

How does Gaza relate to the present reality and the future?

Both sides recognize the enormous complexity of Gaza as it relates to security and a future agreement between the parties. The political control in Gaza of Hamas represents an enormous challenge both to the political viability and coherence of a future Palestinian state as well as the security of the Israeli people. Meanwhile, the sealing of Gaza’s borders by Israel and Egypt, and the control of territorial waters by Israel, has served no one well, with humanitarian conditions there now being among the direst in the world. Determining how Gaza fits into a final-status agreement will not be an easy task for the parties. On the other hand, the surest way to diminish the influence of extremists is for Israelis and Palestinians to come to a peace agreement. Numerous recent surveys of Palestinian public opinion show that the Palestinians would embrace a peace agreement – and the moderate leadership that is necessary to achieve and implement it – should such an agreement become a viable possibility.

What about the argument that Israel’s 2005 military withdrawal from Gaza was only met by more violence directed at Israeli civilians?

No one should downplay the widespread threat to innocent civilians wrought by rocket fire from Gaza, including the steady stream of attacks since Israel withdrew its military presence and settlements from Gaza beginning in 2005. The 2005 withdrawal, however, was unilateral and not accompanied by negotiations over matters like security cooperation. The present negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians should be seen in a very different light. A much better analogue would be the 1978-79 negotiations between Israel and Egypt that led to the peace treaty or the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians that led to the beginning of Palestinian self-administration (and security cooperation with the Israelis) in the West Bank.

What about the Separation Barrier?

Like all sovereign nations, Israel is free to safeguard its borders and protect its citizens through all appropriate and legal means at its disposal. As noted last week, The Episcopal Church has said that Israel’s construction over the past decade of the separation barrier – a security fence in most places and a concrete wall in a few urban areas – “is a legal security measure but not where it violates Palestinian land.” If a border with a future Palestinian state is a true border, the Palestinians must have sovereignty on their side of the border, and The Episcopal Church continues to believe – as do most international parties, including the United States government – that the Green Line should be the starting point for negotiations.

What else has The Episcopal Church said about security?

The Episcopal Church, over the course of at least 35 years of resolutions on the subject, has continually emphasized several themes related to security. These include:

  • Israel, the homeland for the Jewish people, has the right to exist within secure borders recognized by all nations;
  • A future Palestinian state should be viable, secure, contiguous, and autonomous;
  • Violence by all parties, and particularly violence against civilians, is to utterly condemned without qualification;
  • The use of military force in mediating the conflict should be limited to practices proportionate the situation, particularly where civilian control is concerned; and
  • True security, a component of a just and lasting peace, can only be achieved through a negotiated two state solution between the parties.

Show your support for the current peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, and honor the 35th anniversary of the successful negotiations between Israel and Egypt. Contact your member of Congress HERE

Cámara de Obispos finaliza retiro de primavera ‘construyendo puentes’

Thu, 03/27/2014 - 8:43am

[Episcopal News Service] La Cámara de Obispos de la Iglesia Episcopal casi finaliza el retiro anual de primavera el cual ha sido un tiempo para construir la comunidad y construir puentes.

“No se puede trabajar tan eficazmente como colegas si además no somos amigos, y hay una importante relación emocional – relación espiritual – que se genera en estos encuentros y nos profundizamos en otros puntos de la vida de la Cámara de Obispos,” dijo el obispo de la Diócesis de Kansas  Dean Wolfe, vicepresidente de la Cámara de Obispos, el 25 de marzo durante conferencia de prensa telefónica.

El obispo de la Diócesis del Este de Michigan Todd Ousley, copresidente del Comité de Planificación de la Cámara de Obispos, estuvo de acuerdo. “A medida que continuamos acogiendo la reunión de primavera como un tiempo de retiro y reflexión, estamos creciendo juntos más profundamente como una cámara en esa acogida con cada reunión sucesiva”, dijo.

Los obispos, dijo Ousley, están “empezando a profundizar nuestro aprecio por los demás” y, a modo de escuchar las reflexiones de sus colegas, estamos construyendo puentes entre “nuestra espiritualidad personal y la espiritualidad de lo que significa ser un obispo que sirve en la iglesia en este momento”.

El retiro comenzó el 21 de marzo en el centro de conferencia Allen Camp & Retreat Center en Navasota, Texas (Diócesis de Texas), y debe concluir el 25 de marzo después de una reunión estilo cabildo abierto y una sesión de trabajo corta, seguido de una Eucaristía de clausura y la cena.

El obispo Ken Price, secretario de la Cámara de Obispos, dijo durante la conferencia de prensa dijo que el retiro ha tenido una de las presencias más importantes en los últimos años con 148 obispos asistentes. Señaló que la cámara ha cambiado mucho en los 20 años desde que él fue ordenado y consagrado, con la adición de 180 obispos durante ese tiempo.

Durante sus reuniones de negocios, los obispos reconocen formalmente obispo sufragáneo jubilada de la Diócesis de Massachusetts Barbara Harris con una resolución en honor el 25 aniversario de su ordenación y consagración como la primera mujer obispo en la Comunión Anglicana.

“A donde hemos llegado en ese momento es increíble”, dijo Price.

En la apertura del día del retiro, la cámara escucho las exposiciones de dos estudios de mandato de la Convención General. El Rdo. Brian Taylor de Rio Grande y Joan Geiszler-Ludlum de Carolina del Este Carolina presentó el trabajo hasta la fecha del Equipo de Trabajo sobre el Estudio del Matrimonio. Y el, Equipo de Trabajo para Reimaginar la Iglesia Episcopal lo presento los miembros obispo Andy Doyle de Texas, obispa Mary Gray-Reeves de El Camino Real, obispo Sean Rowe de Pennsylvania del Noroeste/Bethlehem y el obispo Michael Curry de Carolina del Norte presentaron el Equipo de Trabajo hasta la fecha.

“Ha habido mucha conversación sobre la necesidad de tener más tiempo para la conversación”, dijo la obispa presidente Katharine Jefferts Schori durante la conferencia de prensa de ambas presentaciones. “Sé que vamos a volver a las dos temas en nuestra reunión de otoño”

Price dijo que, pese a la falta de tiempo para la discusión en profundidad y el reconocimiento de que el grupo de trabajo aún tiene mucho por hacer, hubo una ” recepción muy positiva” de lo que se presentó.

Ousley dijo que ambas iniciativas “representan de una manera muy tangible un movimiento muy positivo por la iglesia en su conjunto en trabajar intencionalmente para recoger las voces de todo el pueblo de Dios en la iglesia sobre asuntos importantes”.

“Encontrar oportunidades adecuadas ” para las voces de los laicos, diáconos, sacerdotes y obispos que se trajeron a la mesa es “parte de una gran tendencia que estamos viendo en la iglesia para tratar de ver cómo todos nosotros podemos estar juntos en la toma de decisiones, y en la lucha de cómo se desarrolla nuestro futuro”, dijo.

Price estuvo de acuerdo y añadió que ” hay un sentimiento predominante de la gente de que estamos entrando en una época en la que tenemos que encontrar nuevas formas de ser en las relaciones que entre sí y que no sólo se debe preocupar por la legalidad de ser una Iglesia”.

Se pidió a los obispos el costo del plan para celebrar su reunión de la cámara en septiembre en Taiwán. Jefferts Schori  indicó que la Diócesis de Taiwán es la parte más oriental de la Iglesia Episcopal y está celebrando su 60 aniversario este año.

La invitación del obispo David Jung-Hsin de Lai “parecía una oportunidad notable para los obispos en esta iglesia para aprender algo sobre el contexto asiático en el que la iglesia tiene relaciones, y también sobre otras partes de la Iglesia Episcopal que está recibiendo migrantes”, ella dijo. “Es una oportunidad para ampliar sobre el tema en esta reunión, que está cantando las canciones del Señor en una tierra extraña. Sí, cuesta algo ir para allá. Cuesta un poco de cada obispo en términos de estar abiertos a nuevas experiencias y discernir la presencia de Dios en otros contextos”.

Wolfe dijo que la cámara ha estado tratando de detener sus costos de las reuniones de este trienio y añadió que “de que la cuestión de que si vamos a ser una iglesia internacional o no lo vamos a ser, y que si lo somos va a… requerir algún costo en términos de gastos en viajes y como la obispa Katharine señaló también el costo de estar dispuesto a entablar nuevas culturas y experiencias diferentes”.

El tema de la reunión de Taiwán será “la expansión de la imaginación apostólica”, dijo Ousley.

“¿Qué mejor manera para nosotros para ampliar nuestra imaginación que estar dentro de una cultura que por su distancia nos fuerza a pensar de manera diferente, escuchar y oír de forma diferente, y ser capaz de traducir esas experiencias cuando regresemos a nuestra propia cultura? Estoy muy emocionado de que vamos a estar ahí “, dijo. “En lo que se refiere al costo, ser fiel en la iglesia no es sólo una cuestión económica, sino más bien se trata de a ¿quién está Dios llamando y qué es lo que Dios nos llama a hacer? Eso es siempre una parte de la ecuación que debemos de tener en cuenta”.

La Oficina de Asuntos Públicos de la Iglesia Episcopal emitió reportes diarios que proporcionan una breve descripción de los debates y actividades de los obispos en Camp Allen. Esos reportes se encuentran aquí.

A los miembros del público y los medios de comunicación no se les permitió observar las sesiones. Algunos obispos utilizaron el blog y tweet durante el retiro usando #hobspring14.Esos tweets pueden ser leídos aquí.

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es una editora/reportera para Episcopal News Service.

La educación siempre fue una parte de la vocación de Ashton Brooks

Wed, 03/26/2014 - 12:50pm

Este artículo es el segundo de una serie de cuatro partes en el ministerio de las catedrales, que presenta entrevistas con sus decanos. El primer artículo, “Video: en el interior de la Catedral San Pablo [St. Paul], en Londres, con el decano David Ison” está disponible aquí. En el 2013, ENS también publicó una serie sobre decanos de la catedral, disponible aquí.

El Muy Rdo. Ashton Brooks es el decano de la Catedral de la Epifanía en Santo Domingo, en la diócesis de la República Dominicana y decano del Centro de Educación Teológica, en el seminario de la IX Provincia. Foto: Lynette Wilson / Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Santo Domingo, República Dominicana] Servir a la iglesia se encuentra en la sangre del Muy Rdo. Ashton Brooks.

Brooks, el decano de la Catedral de la Epifanía, es uno de los más de 10 en su familia, siete todavía sirviendo en el ministerio activo, que ha servido a la iglesia. Ha sido ordenado y ha participado en el ministerio activo durante 45 años.

La Diócesis de la República Dominicana designó a la Epifanía una catedral después que Brooks regresó a la República Dominicana hace cuatro años. A lo largo de su ministerio, Brooks ha servido a la iglesia de los Estados Unidos, el Caribe y desde puntos de toda América Latina, entre ellos la República Dominicana, pero antes de regresar a “casa”, esta última vez, estuvo 10 años como decano de la Iglesia Catedral de Todos Santos en Santo Thomas, Islas Vírgenes.

“Volví porque soy un soñador”, dijo Brooks, quien nació en San Pedro de Macorís, una comunidad alrededor de una hora en el este a lo largo de la costa del Caribe.

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

El Muy Rdo. Ashton Brooks, deán de la Catedral de la Epifanía en Santo Domingo, República Dominicana, predica en español el 2 de marzo, el último domingo después de la Epifanía.

Brooks también sirve como decano del Centro de Estudios Teológicos, la cual comparte la propiedad en la sección de Gazcue de Santo Domingo con la Catedral de la Epifanía. El centro sirve ahora como el seminario oficial de la IX Provincia, incluyendo siete diócesis episcopales repartidas por todo el Caribe, América Central y el norte de América del Sur. En la actualidad hay cinco seminaristas residentes, cuatro dominicanos y una ecuatoriana.

Su sueño, explicó, es ampliar el Centro de Estudios Teológicos y reubicarlo en otro lugar.

El énfasis en la educación ha estado en el corazón del ministerio de Brooks. Es también una de las prioridades de la Diócesis de la República Dominicana, donde casi la mitad de 55 misiones de la diócesis tienen escuelas afiliadas, lo que refleja el compromiso de la Iglesia con la educación.

“Las iglesias y las escuelas se han movido mano a mano en esta diócesis”, dijo Brooks. “La manera de ayudar a la gente salir de una situación desesperada es darles la oportunidad para la educación”.

Cuando se le preguntó acerca de lo que le motiva, Brooks pensó en las clases que tomo en la Escuela de Divinidad de Harvard  con el estudioso del Antiguo Testamento Paul Hanson, quien además de dar clases en Harvard enseñó en la escuela dominical. Hanson diría que sus logros académicos no significaba nada si no era “capaz de relacionarse con los niños en la escuela dominical”, dijo Brooks.

La Catedral de la Epifanía se encuentra en la sección de Gazcue de Santo Domingo. La presencia episcopal en Santo Domingo se remonta a 1918 Foto: Julius Ariail

Reubicar al seminario de la catedral también tendría el beneficio añadido de liberar el espacio para agregar una escuela primaria para ministerios de alcance de la catedral, dijo Brooks. Además de los servicios de adoración, la catedral cuenta con un programa semanal de alimentación, una despensa de alimentos mensual, la biblioteca Helen F. Kellogg en el idioma Inglés y una guardería para “Las ovejitas “, “la pequeña oveja”, entre otros programas para servir a la comunidad.

“La educación es el camino para ayudar a la gente en sus vidas”, dijo. “Mi vocación siempre ha sido la educación”.

Brooks se desempeñó anteriormente en el Centro de Estudios Teológicos en la década de 1970 y 1980, y más tarde también dirigió el Centro de Reflexión Teológica, en San José, Costa Rica.

Brooks se graduó de la Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, la universidad más antigua de América, y también obtuvo grados del Seminario Episcopal del Caribe, antes localizada en Puerto Rico, y el Seminario General de Teología en Nueva York. También estudió en la Escuela Episcopal de Divinidad en Cambridge, Massachusetts. El Seminario de Divinidad en el pacífico en Berkely, California, le otorgó un doctorado honoris en 1993.

Curiosamente, fue durante el servicio militar obligatorio de Brooks, durante el régimen militar de Rafael Trujillo, cuando se dio cuenta que él fue llamado a servir a la iglesia. Cada mañana Brooks dirigía un estudio de la Biblia como un incentivo para que los soldados lleguen a tiempo al simulacro de las 4 a.m., dijo.

“‘El Señor te está llevando a este servicio” se le dijo en ese momento, dijo, y fue entonces que comenzó a explorar el ministerio.

Los domingos por la mañana, la Epifanía ofrece  dos servicios, uno a las 8:45 am en inglés, donde hay poca asistencia, y el otro a las 10:45 horas en español que atrae a un público mucho más amplio.

La Catedral de la Epifanía alberga una despensa mensual de alimentos llamada “Canasta de Lázaro”, además de albergar un programa de alimentación de desayuno semanal. Foto: Julius Ariail

Durante una entrevista con Episcopal News Service en su despacho de la catedral, Brooks explicó que la presencia Episcopal en Santo Domingo se remonta a 1918, dos años después de que Estados Unidos ocupó la isla, una ocupación que duró hasta 1924.

Al principio, la presencia episcopal comenzó como una misión sirviendo a los militares de habla Inglesa militares de EE.UU. y sus familias y la comunidad de expatriados.

“Ministrando en Inglés para gente que habla Inglés en América Latina”, dijo Brooks, quien agregó que los anglicanos de habla Inglesa no siempre recuerdan que hay anglicanos de habla hispana, también. “El estereotipo es que son todos ex católicos romanos”. (La bisabuela de Brooks por el lado de su padre era anglicana)

Tanto como un erudito y un maestro, Brooks ha trabajado para descubrir, interpretar y articular la Biblia de una manera que refleja la singularidad de las personas y la cultura de América Latina.

Él ve su ministerio con fuertes raíces en “tratar de ayudar a las personas que buscan la paz y entenderse entre ellos”.

– Lynette Wilson es una editora/reportera para Episcopal News Service

Rapidísimas

Wed, 03/26/2014 - 10:22am

María Corina Machado la diputada venezolana que ha surgido como líder de la oposición al gobierno de Nicolás Maduro no fue permitida hablar en el Consejo de Seguridad de la OEA. Tal parece que los países que reciben petróleo de Venezuela se confabularon para no permitir que hablara al grupo. La reunión celebrada en Washington sede de la organización comenzó con la votación si la reunión debía ser abierta o a puertas cerradas. La representante de Venezuela antes de emitir su voto dijo que “nosotros creemos en la transparencia” e inmediatamente dijo que la reunión debía ser a “puertas cerradas”. Sus colegas premiaron su sinceridad con estruendosas carcajadas.

El secretario general de la OEA, el chileno José Miguel Insulza insistió en que, dadas las “profundas divisiones” en el país lo único que puede hacer es fomentar el diálogo. Explicó que la organización “no está para poner ni para sacar gobiernos”. Corina regresó a Caracas donde el presidente de la Asamblea Nacional, Diosdado Cabello,  había dicho que sería despojada de su inmunidad parlamentaria y puesta a juicio de una corte criminal por “traición a la patria”. Aconsejada por sus amigos y compañeros Corina, visitó Lima, Perú y dijo que regresaría a Venezuela en breve en pleno uso de “mis derechos como diputada”.

El 24 de marzo muchas iglesias han celebrado el día del martirio del arzobispo Oscar Romero que tuvo lugar cuando celebraba misa en la capilla de un hospital en San Salvador, El Salvador. Sus asesinos nunca fueron arrestados y su muerte quedó impune. Romero dedicó gran parte de su ministerio en la defensa de los derechos humanos en su patria. Su muerte tuvo lugar en 1980.

La violencia en México continúa en aumento. Las autoridades informaron que ésta ha sido más cruenta en los estados de Sonora, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Tamaulipas y el Estado de México. Enfrentamientos y ejecuciones dejaron un saldo de al menos 25 personas, esta semana informó el semanario Proceso y añadió que un enfrentamiento entre agentes de la Policía y presuntos criminales cobró la vida de seis personas en Sonora. Tras el combate los agentes decomisaron un cargamento de marihuana cuyo peso o valor comercial no fue revelado.

Esta semana estará en las pantallas la película César Chávez que narra la vida y los trabajos del líder de los trabajadores agrícolas en Estados Unidos, César Chávez. La cinta llevó cuatro años de preparación y su director Diego Luna dijo que la falta de financiamiento fue una de las causas de la demora. “Espero que esta película inspire a otras  personas a luchar por la justicia con la esperanza de que sí se puede”, dijo Luna.

Ante la situación beligerante de Rusia el patriarca Cirilo de la Iglesia Ortodoxa Rusa dijo que “hermanos de la misma fe y la misma sangre nunca deben traer destrucción”.  En un sermón predicado en la Catedral de Cristo Salvador en el centro de Moscú, Cirilo dijo en una ho,ilía que Ucrania “tiene derecho a la autodeterminación”. El patriarca es conocido por su íntima amistad con el presidente Vladimir Putin y con frecuencia la foto de los dos aparece en los periódicos.

En una reciente reunión en el Vaticano representantes de las principales religiones del mundo tomaron el acuerdo de “erradicar la esclavitud y el tráfico de personas” en cooperación con la Fundación Walk Free.

World Vision, una de las más grandes agencias evangélicas de ayuda humanitaria ha decidido redefinir el matrimonio dejando atrás la antigua definición  de “la unión de un hombre y una mujer”.  La organización dice que sus empleados son libres de casarse con una persona del mismo sexo guardando siempre “la abstinencia antes del matrimonio y la fidelidad” en el vínculo matrimonial.

Los hispanos no tienen que esperar a 2050, cuando se espera que las minorías sean mayoría en Estados Unidos. Más de la mitad de los menores de 18 años de California ya son hispanos y apenas uno de cada cuatro es “anglo”, según muestra el censo.

La diócesis anglicana de Tohuku en Japón ha re-dedicado su catedral por segunda vez después de dos destrucciones. La primera fue en 1945 cuando las bombas de la aviación aliada destruyeron su edificio y la segunda cuando un tsunami en 2011 la destruyó de nuevo. La catedral está en Senday, una de las principales ciudades de Japón. Al evento asistieron cientos de visitantes que admiraron la perseverancia y fe de los miembros de la catedral.

VALOR. Aunque ande en valle de sombra de muerte, no temeré mal alguno; porque tú estarás conmigo; tu vara y tu cayado me infundirán aliento. Salmo 23:4.

House of Bishops spring 2014 retreat meeting daily account

Tue, 03/25/2014 - 6:26pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has been meeting in retreat at the Camp Allen Conference & Retreat Center in Navasota, Texas (Diocese of Texas) since March 21 and concludes today, March 25. The following is an account of the activities for Tuesday, March 25.

The theme for the spring meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is How Shall We Sing The Lord’s Song in a Strange Land?

The day began with Morning Prayer, with a reflection led by Bishop John Howard of Florida. Bishop Howard spoke about singing the Lord’s song in the strange land of the criminal justice system. He noted that the system leans more to retribution than to rehabilitation. The prison population in the United States has increased 700% since 1970.  We represent 5% of the global population and 25% of the world’s prison population. Howard stated that his consistent sermon in prisons is that we are all in shackles and Jesus came to set us free. He encouraged the bishops to join him in prison ministry and in working to reform the criminal justice system.

The emcee for the day was Bishop Rob Hirschfeld of New Hampshire.

The afternoon started with Town Hall facilitated by Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania/Bethlehem.  The bishops discussed:

* The Joint Committee on the Nomination of the Presiding Bishop timeline.
* Bishops Against Gun Violence reported on the upcoming April conference in Oklahoma City, Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace, at which both the Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury will be speaking. The hope is that The Episcopal Church will model a way of conversation for others in America on this subject.
College for Bishops will offer the Orderly Transition Conference for Bishops considering resignation in three to five years.
* The Ecclesiology Committee reported on ongoing work on its major document.
* The election in El Salvador.
* DVDs are available from Racism in America: Fifty Years Later; contact aarias@episcopalchurch.org.

During the Business Session, the bishops approved

  • A resolution honoring Bishop Barbara Harris on her 25th anniversary
  • A resolution to be in solidarity with the Diocese of Venezuela, as that nation seeks a lasting solution to the present difficult economic and political situation
  • A resolution commending the Diocese of the Dominican Republic’s support and advocacy for Dominicans of Haitian descent; and calling upon international agencies to give justice to these people by recognizing their human rights.

 

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced that the offerings collected throughout the week will be donated to Episcopal Relief & Development for South Sudan and to the reconstruction of the Cathedral in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

Three guests offered their thoughts on their experience at the HOB meeting: Bishop Raul Tobias (Iglesia Filipina Independiente), Bishop James Tengatenga (South Malawi, resigned), and Bishop Jonathan Hart (Liberia).

Eucharist concluded the House of Bishops with Bishop Jeff Fisher of Texas presiding; HOB chaplain the Rev. Stephanie Spellers of the Diocese of Long Island  preached.

A light moment: Bishop Greg Rickel of Olympia (Seahawks) and Bishop Rob O’Neill of Colorado (Broncos) announced that in their Super Bowl pre-game challenge, $35,000 was raised for Episcopal Relief & Development during the 48 hours prior to the game. Also, Bishop Rickel presented two gifts to Bishop O’Neill: a DVD of the Super bowl game, and a Seahawks piece of clothing (Seahawks won, Broncos lost).

Media Briefers for Tuesday, March 25
Bishop Ed Konieczny, Diocese of Oklahoma
Bishop Dabney Smith, Diocese of Southwest Florida
Bishop Pierre Whalon, Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe

Follow on Twitter #hobspring14

 

Missional leadership development offered to Episcopal clergy

Tue, 03/25/2014 - 4:32pm

[Luther Seminary press release] Leaders across churches today face massive challenges on two fronts: understanding a pluralist culture that no longer supports Christian identity and practice; and leading faith communities through processes of learning, adaptation and innovation in mission. Meaningful engagement with complex challenges like these functions best in communities of peers who mutually encourage, support, challenge and deepen one another, while being held accountable to a disciplined structure of action/reflection under the guidance of experienced mentors and coaches.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Mildred Kellogg Trust, Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, is launching a new Missional Leadership Cohort for Episcopal clergy. The Missional Leadership Cohort is a structured learning community that offers teaching, mentorship and accountability for Episcopal church leaders in partnership with committed peers and faculty and staff. It offers the promise of intensive, transformational leadership development for a missionary church with flexibility and accommodation for the demands facing full-time, working clergy.

This program will be led by the Rev. Dr. Dwight Zscheile, an Episcopal priest and professor of congregational mission and leadership at Luther Seminary, the Rev. Dr. Daniel Anderson, executive director of the Minnesota Consortium of Theological Schools, and the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon for missional vitality in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island.

Program details and application materials are available at www.luthersem.edu/lifelong_learning/cohort. Please submit the completed application materials by June 1, 2014.

 

Kindling conference created for young adult ministry leaders

Tue, 03/25/2014 - 3:48pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Registration is now open for a visionary Episcopal conference for young adult ministry leaders called Kindling, July 28 – 31 at the Humphrey Center, University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN.

Designed for leaders in ministry with young adults both on and off college campuses, Kindling will provide an opportunity for those seasoned in these ministries as well as new leaders with young adults to meet, share, discuss and, mostly, learn from each other.

“Our goal in convening Kindling is to equip ministry leaders for engaging young adults where they live, work, and study,” said the Rev. Mike Angell, Missioner for Young Adult and Campus Ministries.  “Building a ministry with young adults is like building campfire. You have to pay attention to the kindling, your initial source of heat, for your work to catch fire. This conference is designed to provide those initial sparks of creative ideas, community and inspiration for leaders working with young adults in The Episcopal Church.”

New leaders in young adult and campus ministry are welcome to join a pre-conference gathering the afternoon of July 28. Kindling then begins at 6 pm and continues to noon on July 31.

Registration and conference information here

Registration
Registration is $350 for person for single room; $280 for shared room. Commuter registration is $200.

Registration does not include airfare or travel fees.

A subsidized rate is available for current students or Episcopal Service Corps members (only shared accommodation is available at the subsidized rate): $180 shared; $80 for commuter.

For more info or questions contact Angell at mangell@episcopalchurch.org

House of Bishops concluding ‘bridge-building’ spring retreat

Tue, 03/25/2014 - 3:44pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church House of Bishops’ nearly complete annual spring retreat has been a time of community building and bridge building.

“You cannot work as effectively as colleagues if you are not also friends, and there is emotional and relational capital – spiritual capital – that’s generated in these gatherings that we depend on at other points in the life of the House of Bishops,” Diocese of Kansas Bishop Dean Wolfe, vice president of the House of Bishops, said March 25 during a telephone news conference.

Diocese of Eastern Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley, co-chair of the House of Bishops Planning Committee, agreed. “As we continue to embrace the spring meeting as a time of retreat and reflection, we’re growing together as a house more deeply in that embrace with each successive meeting,” he said.

The bishops, Ousley said, are “beginning to deepen our appreciation for one another” and, by way of hearing reflections from their colleagues, are building bridges between “our own personal spirituality and the spirituality of what it means to be a bishop serving in the church at this time.”

The retreat began March 21 at the Camp Allen Conference & Retreat Center in Navasota, Texas (Diocese of Texas), and is due to conclude March 25 after a town-hall style meeting and a short business session, followed by a closing Eucharist and dinner.

Bishop Ken Price, secretary of the House of Bishops, said during the news conference that the retreat has had one of the largest attendances in recent years with 148 bishops present. He noted that the house has changed a lot in the 20 years since he was ordained and consecrated, with 180 bishops added during that time.

During their business meeting, the bishops will formally recognize retired Diocese of Massachusetts Bishop Suffragan Barbara Harris with a resolution honoring the 25th anniversary of her ordination and consecration as the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion.

“Where we have come in that time is amazing,” Price said.

On the opening day of the retreat, the house heard briefings from two General Convention-mandated studies. The Rev. Brian Taylor of  Rio Grande and Joan Geiszler-Ludlum of East Carolina presented the work to date of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage. And, Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church members Bishop Andy Doyle of Texas, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real, Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania/Bethlehem and Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina presented the task force’s work to date.

“There’s been lots of conversation about the need for more time for conversation,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said during the news conference of both presentations. “I know we will come back to both issues in our fall meeting.”

Price said that, despite the lack of time for in-depth discussion and the acknowledgment that the task force still has a lot of work to do, there was a “very positive reception” of what was presented.

Ousley said both initiatives “represent in a very tangible way a very positive move by the church as a whole into working intentionally to gather the voices of all of God’s people in the church on important matters.”

“Finding appropriate opportunities” for the voices of laity, deacons, priests and bishops to be brought to the table is “part of a large trend that we’re seeing in the church of trying to see how all of us can be together in decision-making, in wrestling with how our future unfolds,” he said.

Price agreed, adding that “there is an overriding feeling from people that we’re entering a time in which we need to find new ways of being in relations which one another and not just worry about the legality of being a church.”

The bishops were asked about the cost of the house’s plan to hold its September meeting in Taiwan. Jefferts Schori noted that the Diocese of Taiwan is the easternmost part of the Episcopal Church and is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

Bishop David Jung-Hsin Lai’s invitation “seemed like a remarkable opportunity for the bishops in this church to learn something about the Asian context in which the church has relationships, and also increasingly from which other parts of the Episcopal Church are receiving migrants,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to expand on the theme of this meeting, which is singing the Lord’s song in a strange land. Yes, it costs something to go there. It costs something of each bishop in terms of openness to new experience and to discerning the presence of God in other contexts.”

Wolfe said that the house has been trying to hold down its meeting costs this triennium and added that “either we are going to be an international church or we are not, and if we are that’s going to … require some cost both in terms of travel expenditure and as Bishop Katharine points out also the cost of being willing to engage new cultures and different experiences.”

The theme of the Taiwan meeting will be “expanding the apostolic imagination,” Ousley said.

“What better way for us to expand our imagination than to be within a culture that by its very distance forces us to think differently, to listen and hear differently, and be able to translate those experiences back to our own culture. I am excited that we’re going to be there,” he said. “As far as the cost is concerned, being faithful in church is not just a question of economic issues but rather it’s about who is God calling us to be and what is God calling us to do. That is always a part of the equation that we must consider.”

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs issued daily accounts that provided a brief overview of the bishops’ discussions and activities at Camp Allen. Those accounts are here.

Members of the public and the news media were not allowed to observe the sessions. Some bishops blogged and tweeted during the retreat using #hobspring14. Those tweets can be read here.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

 

Diocese of Olympia provides Oso mudslide relief

Tue, 03/25/2014 - 10:49am

[Episcopal Diocese of Olympia] In a special edition email news release, Bishop Greg Rickel reported on the situation in Oso and Darrington in the aftermath of the mudslide over this past weekend and provided information on how financial support may be provided by individuals in the diocese.

Said Rickel, “I have been in close communication with the Rev. Janet Loyd, vicar at Church of the Transfiguration in Darrington, near Oso, and the Rev. Terry Kyllo, vicar of St. Philip’s in Marysville. Both Janet and Terry have members of their congregations who have been affected by the mudslide. Please continue to keep them all in your prayers.”

Rickel reported that he had also been in contact with Dave Baylor, diocesan Disaster Relief Coordinator. Baylor functions as the primary connection with the U.S. Disaster Program of Episcopal Relief & Development in New York, to help determine what kind of support that organization might offer to the diocese and the local church in situations like this. He also functions as our liaison to the state level organization of faith-based and community organizations that respond to these events. This group is known as the Washington Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster or WAVOAD.

According to Baylor, “This provides us an integrated and well-informed connection with the field staff and managers of groups such as the American Red Cross, Catholic Community Services, United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, and a host of other similar groups that mobilize to provide help at various points following a disaster, plus federal, state, county and local government agencies.”

An online donation page has been established for those who would like to assist with this relief effort through financial support. This fund will help not only with immediate efforts, but also in the longer term response to needs created by this mudslide.

Rickel concluded with the following prayer, offered for use by congregations and/or individuals:
O merciful Father, comfort all who are in distress in the wake of the mudslides affecting those along the north fork of the Stillaguamish River. Give courage to those who search for family, friends and neighbors, so they will not be lost in danger or despair. Show your compassion to those who have lost loved ones, that they may feel your presence and live in hope of the resurrection. Strengthen those who have lost homes and possessions but have their lives, that they may embrace the precious gift of one another. Receive into your arms your children whose lives have been swept away, that they rest in your everlasting peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Video: Bishop Dinis Sengulane, Mozambican pioneer of peace

Tue, 03/25/2014 - 7:19am
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[Episcopal News Service] The Rt. Rev. Dinis Sengulane, the longest-serving bishop in the Anglican Communion, retired March 25 after leading the Diocese of Lebombo in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa for almost 38 years.

Consecrated as bishop in 1976, Sengulane made his mark as one of Africa’s greatest peacemakers when his efforts to mediate between the Mozambique government and the rebel group Renamo brought an end to 15 years of civil war in 1992.

Once dialogue had been established and peace was in sight, the bishop didn’t stop there. His Preparing the People for Peace program bore many fruits, including the much-acclaimed Swords Into Ploughshares initiative that exchanged thousands of weapons for tools of construction.

About 1 million weapons have been decommissioned since the end of the war. Many have been converted into art, a project that continues today with works exhibited throughout Mozambique and all over the world.

A long-standing partner with the Episcopal Church, Sengulane also has played a significant roll in fighting malaria, one of Africa’s biggest killers, through his involvement in the Rollback Malaria initiative. Sengulane and the Diocese of Lebombo have partnered in particular with Episcopal Relief & Development and the Diocese of Connecticut in various asset-based development programs and other initiatives.

In 2013, Sengulane joined more than 400 Episcopalians in Washington, D.C., for a march against violence.

As he enters retirement, Sengulane reflects on his ministry of peacemaking. Yet he doesn’t see this as his story.

– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter of the Episcopal News Service.