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Updated: 57 min 9 sec ago

Dar gracias dando: las iglesias episcopales empacan y sirven comidas por la fiesta

Thu, 11/27/2014 - 4:04pm

Miembros de una agrupación de jóvenes en la histórica iglesia de Cristo, en Alexandria, Virginia, se preparan a empacar artículos para los obreros pobres de la localidad. Foto de Tara Knox.

[Episcopal News Service] Ya sea empacando pavo con todos los aderezos o sirviendo deliciosas comidas caseras estilo restaurante, las iglesias episcopales a través del país dan gracias en esta temporada festiva dándoles de comer a los hambrientos, los indigentes y los que viven solos.

Un sacerdote de la Florida, que recibió una citación judicial por alimentar a indigentes en un parque público a principios de este mes, dice que él hará exactamente eso la mañana de Acción de Gracias.

“Acompañaré a mis feligreses adultos y a un grupo de jóvenes a uno de los centros asistenciales de la diócesis [del Sudeste de la Florida], la capilla de San Lorenzo [St. Laurence Chapel], para servir una comida entre las 11 A.M. y las 2 P.M. el Día de Acción de Gracias”, según el Rdo. Canónigo Mark Sims, rector de la iglesia de Santa María Magdalena [St. Mary Magdalene Church] en Coral Gables.

“Serviremos una comida tradicional de pavo con relleno, puré de patatas, verduras, bebida y postre. También haremos sándwiches y comidas preparadas para llevárselas a individuos indigentes en las calles del centro de Fort Lauderdale”, dijo Sims, que ha desafiado la constitucionalidad de la ordenanza municipal.

Y Norman Lee, de 63 años, dice que él se considerará un huésped de honor en la iglesia episcopal de San Pedro [St. Peter’s Episcopal Church] en Detroit, donde se propone llegar temprano para una comida de Acción de Gracias.

“Es agradable, especialmente cuando estás viviendo en la calle y nadie te ha invitado a la cena de familia, y no tienes dinero para gastarlo en una comida bonita”, añadió Lee, que se considera un cliente habitual del comedor de beneficencia de la iglesia que sirve comidas cinco días a la semana, un empeño en colaboración de varias congregaciones locales.

“Sirven el pavo desde temprano en la mañana, a partir de las 7:30 o las 8:00 A.M. Y no pavo a secas, sino “con todos los aderezos, salsa de arándanos, relleno… Te la traen a tu asiento. Adornan la cocina y ponen manteles en la mesa y decoraciones para crear el ambiente”.

A él le recuerdan las fiestas del pasado, “poder tener una auténtica comida, a la antigua”, dijo.

Marianne Arbogast, que administra el comedor de beneficencia Manna Community Meal de la iglesia, dijo que espera servir entre 700 y 800 comidas el Día de Acción de Gracias con la ayuda de cientos de voluntarios.

En el sur de California, el don de amor de una mujer se ha multiplicado por miles.

Kim McCurdy, feligresa de la iglesia episcopal de San Ambrosio [St. Ambrose Episcopal Church] en Claremont, empezó a compartir comidas de Acción de Gracias con unos pocos indigentes hace 21 años.

Este año, con la ayuda de voluntarios, McCurdy y Gayle Jensen, su socia en una empresa de banquetes, ayudarán a organizar, cocinar y distribuir comidas para varios miles de personas en la iglesia y en otros cuatro lugares del sur de California.

Cuando ella advertía la presencia de personas indigentes y hambrientas, “me hacía acordar de cuando yo crecía en Vietnam”, dijo. “Mi madre tenía ocho hijos y mi padre murió joven. Estábamos hambrientos todo el tiempo”.

McCurdy le propuso a su rector que quería ayudar a alimentar a las personas de la localidad que se encuentran sin hogar. Ella y Jensen usan la cocina parroquial y sus esfuerzos han dado lugar a la donación de millares de pavos y otros artículos alimentarios. Las mujeres también han organizado un programa semanal interreligioso que le da de comer a cientos de personas.

“Hay muchos obreros pobres y personas solas, ancianos y gente que está hambrienta el año entero”, dijo Jensen.

En Ohio y Virginia: Empacando golosinas de fiesta
Pippa y Truman, los mellizos de 6 años de Jill Burket Ragase, e incluso Penelope y Quentin, sus mellizos de 18 meses, “ya son expertos en cajas de Acción de Gracias”.

Y Ragase, coordinadora voluntaria del programa comunitario de Acción de Gracias de la iglesia episcopal del Redentor [Episcopal Church of the Redeemer], en Cincinnati, dice que ella cree que [sus hijos] pueden llegar incluso a entender un poquito lo que significa la falta de alimento por codearse con los que la experimentan.

Participar en un ministerio de familia mientras ayuda a otros es una razón por la que aceptó dirigir el programa del Redentor este año, dijo Ragase. Ella y otros voluntarios recogieron unas 940 barras de mantequilla, 2.820 huevos extra grandes y suficientes bolsas de patatas de 5 libras para llenar 250 cajas con pavo y todos los ingredientes para una comida de Acción de Gracias para obreros pobres que viven en la localidad.

“Somos muy afortunados”, dijo Ragase. “Una tienda de víveres local ofreció los pavos a 99 centavos la libra y nos da un 10 por ciento de descuento del resto de los artículos perecederos. De manera que voy a ir a pedirlos esta semana”.

Según Sharon Jenkins, directora de comunicaciones del Redentor, la parroquia se ha asociado durante varios años con el Centro Docente y Asistencial de Madisonville (MEAC) y negocia con la tienda de víveres “conseguir los pavos a un precio reducido, e incluimos huevos, patatas y todos los ingredientes para una comida abundante”.

Después llegan fardos de cajas de cartón corrugado donadas, que los feligreses se comprometieron en octubre a llenar, al menos una cada uno. “Algunos llenan hasta tres cajas” lo cual aumentó este año el número total de cajas, de 225 que se llenaron en 2013.

Los feligreses “incluyen una donación de $15 para el costo de los pavos” y las cajas vienen con una lista de compra de artículos no perecederos tales como macarrones, puré de patatas [deshidratado], mezcla de relleno para el pavo, relleno y tapas de pastel. Se llenan las cajas y luego “esta semana es la mejor parte” porque llegan los pavos, dijo Ragase el 21 de noviembre.

El 22 de noviembre, los voluntarios llegaban por turnos, algunos para recoger los pavos y otros los artículos perecederos de las tiendas de víveres locales, otros a entregar las cajas en el comedor de beneficencia del MEAC para una distribución el 23 de noviembre.

De manera semejante, los miembros de la histórica iglesia de Cristo [Christ Church] en Alexandria, Virginia, ayudaron a llenar cajas con pavo y todos los aderezos para que 150 familias de la localidad tuvieran una comida completa de Acción de Gracias, según Tara Knox, la directora de desarrollo.

“La familias son alejandrinos que han solicitado ayuda del Ministerio de Asistencia Comunitaria Lázaro [Lazarus Outreach Ministry] que atiende a personas necesitadas de la localidad”, según explicó Knox.

El 23 de noviembre, estudiantes de sexto a 12º. grados ayudaron a preparar el ambiente para la distribución de alimentos al convertir parte del salón parroquial en una despensa de Acción de Gracias, contó ella. Recibieron pavos y artículos enlatados.

Cuando lleguen los que han solicitado ayuda, un asistente los acompañará en el recorrido por la despensa, dijo Knox.

“Es una magnífica oportunidad de que tengan una comida de familia preparada en su propia casa”, agregó. “Y resulta verdaderamente divertido para nosotros porque todo el mundo puede participar de la iniciativa y los chicos logran instalar la despensa. Es algo imaginativo, y los niños de la escuela dominical reúnen sorpresas y mensajes inspiradores para mandarlos con las bolsas”.

–La Rda. Pat McCaughan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service. Traducido por Vicente Echerri.

Conferencia de mujeres reúne a episcopales de Brasil y Uruguay

Thu, 11/27/2014 - 6:42am

El primer día de la conferencia, que se celebró el 8 y 9 de noviembre, a cada mujer le dieron dos pedazos de papel, uno de ellos con un ojo abierto y el otro con un ojo cerrado. En el del ojo cerrado se les pidió que apuntaran cosas, personas, situaciones en sus comunidades que estuvieran reprimidas, dormidas o muertas. En el papel con el ojo abierto les pidieron que anotaran cosas, personas y situaciones a las que la Iglesia haya sustentado o dado vida. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – Montevideo, Uruguay] Algunas de las mujeres empezaron a ahorrar dinero con más de seis meses de antelación y algunas viajaron 12 horas en autobús desde el otro lado de la frontera para asistir a esta conferencia binacional, que ha unido durante más de ocho años a mujeres brasileñas y uruguayas mediante historias de dificultades, de valor, de energía y de amor.

Su mundo está cambiando, y unas cuantas mujeres están asumiendo papeles de liderazgo. Sin embargo, aún hay mucho que hacer para cumplir con la progresista Convención de Belém, que exigía de los países que la firmaron hace 20 años que educaran a sus pueblos en los derechos de las mujeres, a combatir el machismo y a aprobar leyes para proteger a las mujeres de la violencia.

A principios de este mes, 100 mujeres y más de una docena de hombres en representación de las tres diócesis del extremo sur —Sur-Occidental, Meridional y Pelotas— de la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil y la Diócesis Anglicana del Uruguay se reunieron en un centro de retiro espiritual a 30 minutos de esta capital para una conferencia de dos días centrada en el tema “Las mujeres de la Iglesia comprometidas con el cambio social”.

Las mujeres dijeron que la reunión anual ofrece el espacio para compartir historias y entablar relaciones que las faculten en sus ministerios comunitarios. Una de las formas en que las mujeres manifiestan su compromiso con el cambio social en sus comunidades es mediante la toma de conciencia sobre la prevención e intervención de la violencia de género.

La violencia contra las mujeres y los niños está muy extendida y suele ser cosa corriente a través de América Latina, donde con frecuencia “las mujeres ni siquiera están conscientes de las violencia a la que están sujetas, o creen que ellas son las únicas víctimas de abusos”, dijo Christina Takatsu Winnischofer, presidente de la Unión de Mujeres de la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil.

Durante la reunión del 8 y 9 de noviembre, las mujeres y los hombres compartieron historias de ministerios de la Iglesia y de la comunidad, así como de programas sociales que funcionaban bien y [también] de los que enfrentaban desafíos, que van desde contar con los recursos para hacerle frente a las necesidades de la comunidad a los trámites burocráticos y las restricciones que se aplican cuando las iglesias trabajan con organismos gubernamentales que ofrecen servicios sociales.

La atención a la violencia contra las mujeres y los niños —gran parte de la cual se define como violencia doméstica— fue un tema que seguía vigente desde la conferencia del año pasado que se celebró en la Diócesis del Brasil Meridional.

La Iglesia Episcopal en los Estados Unidos, que comparte un acuerdo de pacto con la Iglesia del Brasil (provincia autónoma desde 1965), también estuvo representada, en la conferencia de dos días, por la Rda. Glenda McQueen, funcionaria encargada de América Latina y el Caribe, y el Rdo. David Copley, encargado del personal de la misión, los cuales trabajan en la oficina de asociaciones globales de la Iglesia; las misioneras Mónica Vega y Heidi Schmidt, nombradas por la Iglesia Episcopal para servir en la Provincia del Brasil, y las misioneras del Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos, Nina Boe, de la Diócesis de Olympia, y Kirsten Lowell, de la Diócesis de Maine, que sirven en la Diócesis de Río de Janeiro y en la Diócesis del Uruguay, respectivamente.

De izquierda a derecha, el Rdo. David Copley, funcionario encargado del personal en misión de la Iglesia, Mónica Vega, misionera nombrada por la Iglesia Episcopal, Kirsten Lowell, misionera del Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos, el arzobispo Francisco de Assis da Silva, primado de la Provincia del Brasil, Nina Boe, misionera del Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos y Heidi Schmidt, misionera nombrada por la Iglesia Episcopal. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS

“Existe este movimiento tendiente a abordar los problemas actuales de las mujeres en nuestras iglesias, lo cual es fundamental”, dijo Vega, que además de trabajar en la oficina provincial de la Iglesia, colabora con una organización sin fines de lucro que se dedica a respaldar a vendedoras ambulantes.

Ocuparse de los problemas de las mujeres no es algo que uno hace porque esté de moda, añadió, “sino porque es una señal del Reino. Devolverles la dignidad a las mujeres es una señal del Reino, eso es lo que hizo Jesús”.

Uruguay, uno de los países más pequeños de América del Sur, tanto en territorio como en población, limita con dos de los más grandes: al oeste, con Argentina; y al norte y al este, con el mucho más extenso Brasil. Hay 200 millones de personas en Brasil, comparado con 3,5 millones en Uruguay, países en los cuales el 9 por ciento y el 11,5 por ciento, respectivamente, vive en la pobreza, según datos del Banco Mundial.

No obstante, respecto a la violencia contra las mujeres, el tamaño, el ingreso y otros datos del desarrollo no cuentan la historia de lo que las Naciones Unidas define como “una pandemia que se presenta en diversas formas”. En Uruguay se denunciaron diariamente un promedio de 68 casos de violencia doméstica en 2013; Amnistía Internacional ha criticado al gobierno por su incapacidad de responder adecuadamente a casos de violencia contra las mujeres. Entre 2001 y 2011, más de 50.000 mujeres fueron asesinadas [en Brasil] principalmente como resultado de la violencia doméstica, según el Instituto Brasileño para la Investigación Aplicada. Brasil es el séptimo país más peligroso del mundo conforme a las tasas de violencia hacia las mujeres.

Durante el oficio eucarístico del 9 de noviembre, las mujeres, en parejas, escenificaron un ejercicio que demostraba lo que ocurre cuando a las mujeres las tratan como cosas u objetos —la verdad es que cuando a las mujeres las tratan como cosas es que no importan.

Cuando la Iglesia comenzó a hablar por primera vez acerca de la violencia contra las mujeres se adentró en un territorio inexplorado porque “la violencia contra las mujeres no era algo de lo que uno habla en la iglesia”, dijo el arzobispo Francisco de Assis da Silva, primado del Brasil desde 2013, y obispo de la Diócesis del Brasil Sudoccidental.

El arzobispo Francisco de Assis da Silva, primado del Brasil y obispo de la Diócesis del Brasil Sudoccidental, el obispo Michele Pollesel, de la Diócesis Anglicana del Uruguay, y el obispo Humberto Maiztegue, de la Diócesis del Brasil Meridional. El obispo Renato Da Cruz Raatz, de la Diócesis de Pelotas, también asistió a la conferencia. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Sin embargo, era algo que la Iglesia necesitaba hacer a pesar del “tabú”, agregó da Silva cuando se dirigió a la conferencia en su segunda jornada. Cuando la Iglesia empezó a hablar de la violencia contra las mujeres, no pudo negar que también existe en la Iglesia y que, desafortunadamente, los hombres no lo consideran un tema importante.

“Es algo que presentan las mujeres, para mujeres”, dijo, y eso es uno de los mayores obstáculos para abordar la violencia contra las mujeres y los niños. “Es algo que los hombres necesitan sacar a relucir”.

Tomar la delantera tocante a los derechos de las mujeres
Coordinado por Servicios Anglicanos de Diaconía y Desarrollo (SADD), que coordina servicios y proyectos sociales en todos los niveles de la Iglesia, la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil emprendió un estudio de dos años sobre derechos humanos, el cual, gracias a la información recogida a partir de la base, llevó a concentrarse en la violencias doméstica , explicó Sandra Andrade, directora de SADD.

En agosto de 2013, SADD, en asociación con Ayuda Cristiana, publicó su primer folleto orientado a la prevención e intervención de la violencia de género. El folleto, que incluía 10 talleres destinados tanto a hombres como a mujeres, fue más tarde traducido del portugués al español y al inglés con la colaboración de Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales; desde entonces se ha distribuido tanto en América Latina como en África.

A principios de este año se publicó una segunda versión del folleto, actualizado con un taller adicional sobre estrategias para la prevención del VIH, y se distribuyó en la conferencia.

“La violencia doméstica contra las mujeres es una consecuencia de una cultura edificada por una sociedad que promueve desigualdades basadas en las diferencias que se consideran naturales (biológicas) entre los sexos, las cuales determinan cómo debe comportarse cada persona por ser de un sexo u otro”, dice el folleto.

“Al igual que en todos los espacios sociales, las comunidades religiosas no están exentas de esta realidad y, con frecuencia, contribuyen a la perpetuación de esta violencia a través de sus declaraciones y costumbres. Por tanto, si como comunidades religiosas somos capaces de cometer actos de violencia contra las mujeres, podemos admitir también que somos capaces de imponernos y de vencer esta realidad y edificar una cultura de paz basada en el Evangelio de Jesucristo”.

Aislamiento
La Amazonia, una zona que abarca más de 5 millones de kilómetros cuadrados en el norte de Brasil, puede sentirse particularmente aislada ya que a menudo está desconectada de los servicios del gobierno. Un obispo y dos sacerdotes atienden nueve comunidades distintas en las que impera la violencia doméstica. “Las mujeres, en su sentido más directo, mueren debido a la violencia”, dijo María Elizabeth Santos Teixeira, una agente de la policía de la Diócesis de Amazonia, que funge de vicepresidente de la Unión de Mujeres.

“Una cosa es decir que hay dificultades, y otra poder sentarse con algunas personas y contarles las experiencias”, dijo Santos Teixeira.

El aislamiento que Santos Teixeira percibe a veces en la Amazonia puede percibirse también en Uruguay. La Diócesis del Uruguay se vio frustrada en su intento en 2012 de llegar a formar parte de la Provincia de Brasil.

La participación de las mujeres uruguayas en la conferencia comenzó a partir de una relación de compañerismo diocesano con la Diócesis del Brasil Meridional, pero la relación se extendió más allá de eso. La Iglesia en Uruguay está más conectada con la Iglesia en Brasil que con su propia provincia.

“Fue la labor con Brasil meridional lo que realmente le devolvió la vida a la Iglesia en Uruguay; en verdad se esforzaron en promover una Iglesia de base”, dijo el Rvdmo. Michele Pollesel, que se convirtió en el obispo del Uruguay en 2013, luego de haber sido rechazado por los obispos de la Iglesia Anglicana de América del Sur, llamada anteriormente la Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de América.

Una de las cosas por las que la Iglesia en Uruguay ha luchado durante mucho tiempo, dijo Pollesel, es por la ordenación de las mujeres que, en su opinión, advendrá en los próximos 12 meses cuando la provincia esté en el proceso de aprobar nuevos cánones provinciales.

En Brasil, una larga historia de participación de las mujeres
La Iglesia Anglicana del Brasil ha existido durante 150 años en lo que se tiene por un país eminentemente catolicorromano. Por el contrario, la Diócesis del Uruguay celebró 25 años de fundada en 2014 en un país mayoritariamente secular que está considerado el más liberal de Latinoamérica.

Pese a la reputación liberal del Uruguay, las mujeres no suelen participar en los papeles decisivos de la sociedad; y lo mismo sucede en la Iglesia.

Las mujeres de la Iglesia en Uruguay tienden a asumir un papel más tradicional, proporcionando apoyo a nivel parroquial, dijo Gabriela Núñez, líder laica y psicóloga que está casada con un sacerdote.

Por otra parte, la Unión de Mujeres Episcopales Anglicanas ha existido en Brasil con diferentes nombres por más de 100 años, y adoptó su nombre actual en los años 80 “para reflejar la necesidad de las mujeres de estar unidas”, dijo Winnischofer, la presidente de la Unión y secretaria general de la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil de 2003 a 2006.

El cambio de nombre también simbolizó un cambio de foco de lo que había sido un papel auxiliar tradicional en apoyo de la Iglesia, los ancianos y los pobres, a uno que incluyera las necesidades de las mujeres; y eso tuvo lugar en un momento en que las mujeres de la Iglesia se unieron para apoyar la ordenación de mujeres, que también suscitó el tema del estatus de la mujer en la Iglesia, apuntó Winnischofer.

La Rda. Carmen Gomes, la primera mujer ordenada en la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil, presidió la eucaristía del 9 de noviembre. Foto de David Copley.

En 1985, la Rda. Carmen Gomes se convirtió en la primera mujer ordenada en la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil, que hoy cuenta con 30 mujeres sacerdotes que sirven a través de sus nueve diócesis. Además, las mujeres han desempeñado papeles de liderazgo en todos los niveles de la Iglesia.

Mediante reuniones, compartiendo historias y facilitando que sus integrantes se ofrezcan apoyo mutuo, la Unión de Mujeres sigue laborando por elevar la condición de las mujeres en la Iglesia y en la sociedad, una tarea que siempre resulta más difícil cuando las mujeres tienen empleo de jornada completa y deberes de familia, resaltó Winnischofer.

“Las mujeres están siendo más visibles en la sociedad”, dijo ella, pero aún están subrepresentadas en los papeles de liderazgo, no obstante los avances. Explicó que la actitud persistente ha sido que “por una parte somos visibles y tenemos una presencia, pero no necesitamos acercarnos a la mesa porque ya estamos en el salón”.

– Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Declaración de la Obispa Presidente sobre el camino a seguir a partir de Ferguson

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 3:48pm

[26 de noviembre del 2014] La Obispa Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal Katharine Jefferts Schori ha emitido la siguiente declaración sobre el camino a seguir a partir de Ferguson:

La Iglesia Episcopal se une a muchos otros en profundo lamento por la trágica realidad que no cesa de revelarse en Ferguson, Missouri. El racismo en este país es parte de nuestra fundación, y no es exclusivo de una ciudad, provincia o región del país. Todos los estadounidenses viven las consecuencias de siglos de esclavitud, explotación y prejuicio. Ese legado continúa conduciendo a las personas a percibir la amenaza en aquellos que son vistos como “otro”. El color de la piel es a menudo la representación más visible de lo que divide a los hijos de Dios.

La muerte de Michael Brown fue y es una tragedia, y se ha convertido en un poderoso testimonio de esas divisiones entre los seres humanos de esta nación. Su muerte también tiene el potencial de convertirse en una ofrenda sacramental, si sigue desafiándonos a abordar nuestras divisiones y las injusticias de este país que profundizan mucho más allá de la piel.

Esta nación fue fundada con la visión de la libertad, una visión que ha requerido constantes desafíos a fin de avanzar hacia la verdadera libertad para todo el pueblo de esta nación. Los cristianos entienden la visión sagrada del reino de Dios como una sociedad de paz con justicia para todos. Que la vida y la muerte de Michael Brown nos conduzcan hacia una reconciliación que sacuda los cimientos de esta nación hacia la justicia para la que todos fuimos creados. La Iglesia Episcopal seguirá colaborando y alentando hacia la reconciliación racial en Missouri y en toda la nación. Les pido que se pongan de pie con las manos extendidas en amor, buscando la imagen de Dios en cada vecino, y ofreciéndose a sí mismos en vulnerabilidad en las aras de la reconciliación a través de esta nación. Seamos instrumentos de paz y sanación de Dios, evidenciado en las comunidades de  justicia para todos.
La Revdma. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Obispa Presidente y Primada
Iglesia Episcopal

Resources and reflections on the Ferguson decision

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 2:16pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Following the recent announcement of the grand jury decision in Ferguson, MO, The Episcopal Church is providing resources for understanding, reflecting, praying and participating in a spirit-filled response.

“The decision in Ferguson has reached into the hearts of every American,” noted Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer. “The Episcopal Church is providing a series of resources and reflections to help us consider our response and our way forward.”

Useful Links:

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s statement http://www.episcopalchurch.org/notice/presiding-bishops-statement-way-forward-ferguson Way Forward: Reflections, Resources & Stories Concerning Ferguson http://advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/episcopal/AWayForward Episcopal Diocese of Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith statement http://www.diocesemo.org/news/2014/11/25/standing-gap-bishops-message-grand-jury-decision Episcopal Diocese of Missouri http://www.diocesemo.org/ Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, MO http://www.christchurchcathedral.us/ Share and post personal stories of experiences with racism, structures of inequality, and racial reconciliation. http://advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/episcopal/story Reflections from Episcopalians http://advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/episcopal/voices Practices for racial reconciliation http://advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/episcopal/Practices Other statements http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/tag/ferguson/ Social Justice and Advocacy Engagement Blog http://www.episcopalchurch.org/blog/SocialJusticeAndAdvocacy

Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith’s statement on Ferguson

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 2:14pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Newark] The Thanksgiving holiday has been inconvenienced by an early snowfall; and the spirit of gratitude which accompanies the holiday has been blunted by the tragic reality that continues to emerge from Ferguson, Missouri. The weather may make it difficult, and in some cases impossible, for people to gather for the Thanksgiving meal. The events in Ferguson yet again expose how difficult, and in some cases how seemingly impossible, it is for people in American society to move beyond the prejudice and racism which have been woven into our nation’s fabric – and work together as communities that offer equal justice and freedom for all.

The tragedies of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Trayvon Martin in Florida, Akai Gurley (the young unarmed man shot in Brooklyn last week) and Tamir Rice ( the 12 year boy killed in Cleveland last weekend) are all rooted in fear. No doubt the police are often afraid, given the risks and challenges of their role; but they also carry the deep anxiety of the communities they serve, which often live with an unspoken fear of the “other.”

There is the tragedy of young, unarmed black men being shot and killed. But there is a deeper tragedy of a culture that seems to live with the illusion that in order for the majority to be safe (and presumably free of fear) some need to be sacrificed. That illusion is racial profiling of the worst order.

I remember theologian Walter Brueggemann saying that “fear not” is the overarching message of the Gospel. I believe that. But I also believe that the way to deal with fear is not to deny it, or create illusions that hide it – but to name it and work through it. Jesus did that. He named fear, he faced fear – and in his Resurrection overcame fear.

Jesus continues to do name and face fear – through us.

I invite you – with whomever is able to show up at your Thanksgiving meal, to give thanks for the fact that Jesus is with us, and can help lead us through our fear to a promise of hope, peace and justice. Our faith – and our acting from our faith, has the potential to make life safer. For everyone.

Peace,
Mark M. Beckwith

Resources for Advent waiting

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 4:43am

Escuelas Episcopales celebra 50 años de docencia como misión

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 4:31am

La obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori se dirige a la reunión del 50º. aniversario de la Asociación Nacional de Escuelas Episcopales. Foto de Janet Kawamoto.

[Episcopal News Service] Los carismas de las escuelas episcopales — una “generosa amplitud, paciencia con flexibilidad, y una búsqueda del saber que se asienta en la creencia profunda y perdurable en la bondad y creatividad del mundo”— las hacen particularmente idóneas para la formación de líderes en un mundo cada vez más globalizado e interconectado, dijo la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori a los asistentes a una reunión en Anaheim, California, el 21 de noviembre.

Más de 650 maestros, directores de escuelas, obispos, rectores de parroquias, administradores, capellanes y otras personas venidas de diversas partes del mundo se reunieron del 20 al 22 de noviembre para festejar la educación episcopal y el 50º. Aniversario de la Asociación Nacional de Escuelas Episcopales (NAES, por su sigla en inglés).

“La educación episcopal aborda el panorama general… supervisando, ascendiendo a la cumbre en un sentido estratégico para ver la totalidad del paisaje, y no sólo el contexto inmediato y local”, dijo la Obispa Primada.

“Se trata de comprensión y de inclusión; se trata de una orientación hacia la totalidad del cuerpo [social], en lugar de sólo hacia una parte. Ese supuesto fundamental es el porqué reúnen a estudiantes de tan diferentes tradiciones religiosas y de ninguna, el porqué buscan a estudiantes de diversos estratos sociales, el porqué con tanta frecuencia atraen a estudiantes internacionales, el porqué procuran con ahínco creciente ser más plurales que las comunidades en la cuales están establecidas”.

Ella retó al grupo a considerar un nombre que refleje su carácter global. También asistían representantes docentes de Haití, de Australia y de Canadá.

Ejemplos notables de la docencia como misión incluye, dijo ella, a la Universidad de Cuttington en Liberia, a la Universidad de Rikkyo en Japón, a la histórica Universidad de San Juan [St. John’s] y a la Universidad de la Trinidad [Trinity] en Manila.

La NAES comprende más de 1.000 escuelas en Estados Unidos y otros países, según el Rdo. Dan Heischman, su director ejecutivo.

“En mi opinión, éste es uno de los campos de misión de la Iglesia más importantes y valiosos de la Iglesia”, dijo él. “Se ocupa de plantar semillas. En lo que respecta a posibilidades, la Iglesia se preocupa muchísimo de lo que puede hacer para llegar a las personas no religiosas que podrían interesarse en la Iglesia Episcopal. Sólo un 20 por ciento de los estudiantes que asisten a escuelas episcopales son episcopales, de manera que tenemos una fantástica oportunidad de llegar a la gente… de tener un verdadero impacto en sus vidas, de diversas maneras”.

Las escuelas varían de tamaño, desde las muy pequeñas, como la escuela de San Timoteo [St. Timothy] en Compton, California, de sólo siete alumnos, hasta la más grande, Iolani, con más de 2.000 alumnos en Honolulú. La mayoría tiende a concentrarse en el desarrollo preescolar y de la temprana infancia.

Además de reunir a educadores con vistas a la colaboración y la interconexión, la conferencia “está formulando una visión para los próximos 50 años”, dijo Heischman. “Es una oportunidad para las escuelas episcopales a través de la Iglesia de reunirse, de celebrar las cosas estupendas que hacen las escuelas y del impacto que tienen. Muchas de nuestras escuelas están aisladas de las demás”.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson, el gran baloncestista retirado de los Lakers de Los Ángeles, se dirige a la reunión de la NAES. Foto de Janet Kawamoto.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson, el gran baloncestista retirado de los Lakers de Los Ángeles se dirigió a la reunión como un padre cuyos hijos asistieron a Campbell Hall, una escuela episcopal de la zona de Los Ángeles.

Johnson, que ahora es copropietario del equipo de béisbol Los Dodgers de Los Ángeles, del equipo nacional de baloncesto femenino Los Ángeles Sparks, y del Club de Fútbol de Los Ángeles, un equipo profesional, se refirió a la importancia de enviar a sus hijos —y ahora a un nieto— a una escuela episcopal.

“Muchísimas veces, ustedes han realizado una labor ingrata, porque los jóvenes no entienden lo que han hecho por ellos. Yo he disfrutado cada momento que mis hijos han pasado en Campbell Hill. Estoy tan orgulloso de que mis niños hayan asistido a Campbell Hill que no podría imaginarlos en ninguna otra escuela”, afirmó.

“Me encanta la capilla de los viernes, pero también todos y cada uno de los días en que ellos obtuvieron una educación de calidad que no les cambió su identidad como E.J. y Elisa. [Esa educación] les permitió ser ellos mismos y tener un poco de gracia social… porque eso es importante”.

Él también comentó la importancia de la educación en preparar a los jóvenes para ser líderes, como su propio caso a partir de un origen humilde en el pueblo de Lansing, Michigan, donde él y sus nueve hermanos vivían en una casa de tres habitaciones.

Un maestro le pidió ayuda durante un período de tensiones raciales, y Johnson, ahora de 55 años, le dijo a la reunión: “ese día Dios me hizo líder”, una tradición que ha mantenido desde entonces.

Los temas de los talleres y los conversatorios también se concentraron en algunos de los retos que enfrentan las escuelas, entre ellos el mantener una identidad como escuela episcopal en medio de los cambios demográficos, las [nuevas] tecnologías y una creciente cultura secular.

La psicóloga Madeline Levine, autora de The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids [El precio del privilegio: cómo la presión de los padres y las ventajas materiales están creando una generación de niños desconectados e infelices] (HarperCollins, 2008), y primera oradora de la reunión, explicó cómo las limitadas definiciones del éxito estresan y marginan innecesariamente a los estudiantes creativos.

Como psicóloga en ejercicio, sus clientes incluyen a niños que “han entrado en crisis por haber sido totalmente protegidos del fracaso, el reto y la decepción”.

Citando a una madre que le dijo que no podía soportar ver a su hijo infeliz, Levine recalcó: “Si usted no puede soportar ver a su hijo infeliz, ha elegido la carrera equivocada… porque eso es una realidad de la vida. De qué manera pasa un niño de que se le rompa su juguete preferido a los 5 años a que se le rompa el corazón a los 15 por un primer amor, a que lo despidan de su primer empleo a los 25, a la pérdida de sus padres a los 55… sencillamente así es la vida y la preparación para la vida incluye no sólo las admisiones universitarias, sino la capacidad de enfrentar los retos de una manera sana”.

Ella agregó que uno de cada cuatro estudiantes del último año de secundaria en comunidades prósperas tiene una enfermedad mental diagnosticable. “Desde el punto de vista de la pérdida de niños con posibilidades, es enorme. Desde el punto de vista de los trabajadores, es enorme. Desde el punto de vista de una democracia dinámica, es enorme. Y si fuera cualquier otra cosa, salvo una enfermedad mental, habría habido una gigantesca campaña, pero la salud mental es un gravísimo tabú”.

Contó que una secundaria afiliada a la Universidad de Stanford, California, donde ella trabaja, “acababa de tener su séptimo suicidio en dos años”. Los factores coadyuvantes incluyen falta de apoyo, falta de sentido [en sus vidas] y falta de adultos conocedores que los supervisen, afirmó.

La conferencia incluyó también centenares de sesiones de temas tan variados como equidad y justicia, liderazgo y gobierno, el ministerio de la enseñanza, vida escolar y estudio personal de la identidad episcopal dirigido por Heischman.

El culto y la capilla diarios contaron con la participación de algunos jóvenes, entre ellos la de Sarah Engel, de 17 años, estudiante de la escuela episcopal de Santa Margarita de Escocia [St. Margaret of Scotland] en San Juan Capistrano, que predicó sobre la esperanza en el futuro y la historia de Jonás en el Antiguo Testamento (Jonás 1:17).

“Con frecuencia en nuestras vidas nos encontramos huyendo de nuestros objetivos —ya sea con plena conciencia de ello o no. Menos mal que en el momento en que nos damos cuenta de que nos hemos equivocado, en el momento en que nos percatamos de que en verdad nos hemos metido en un lío, Dios nos envía un gran pez para tragarnos por entero” le dijo ella a la audiencia.

“En otras palabras, Dios nos da una oportunidad de pensar, mientras nos conduce activamente hacia nuestra segunda oportunidad. Si somos como la gente de Nínive, permitiremos que esa segunda oportunidad nos transforme. Percibimos el atisbo de la esperanza, el susurro de la salvación, en cualquier problema en que nos encontremos, y nos aferramos a él. Podemos asumir ese indicio de Dios y convertirlo en el centro de nuestras vidas.

“Como cristiana y como una adolescente excesivamente impresionante y hormonal, esta esperanza es para mí lo más importante, el mayor consuelo de mi vida”.

“Miro a los ojos de mis padre, miro a los relatos que me han contado desde que era bebé, miro al estrellado cielo nocturno, y siento que Dios me dice que esta esperanza es inquebrantable. Me esfuerzo por llevar este conocimiento a mi vida diaria. Constituye un reto, algo que creo es una trayectoria de por vida. Lo cierto es que la esperanza que encontramos en Dios no es más que un pequeño atisbo, y eso no explica nada. No obstante, eso significa todo. Mi oración es que mantenga ese atisbo ante mí en el transcurso de mi vida y que lo valore como el milagro que realmente es”.

– La Rda Pat McCaughan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Giving thanks by giving: Episcopal churches box, dish up holiday meals

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 4:21am

Youth group members at Historic Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, get ready to box up items for distribution to local working poor. Photo courtesy Tara Knox

[Episcopal News Service] Whether boxing up turkey with all the trimmings or serving delicious home-cooked meals restaurant-style, Episcopal churches across the country are giving thanks this holiday season by giving to the hungry, the homeless and the lonely.

A Florida priest who received a criminal citation for feeding the homeless in a public park earlier this month says he’ll be doing just that come Thanksgiving morning.

“I will be accompanying my adult parishioners and youth group members to one of the [Southeast Florida] diocese’s outreach centers, St. Laurence Chapel, to serve Thanksgiving dinner between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day,” according to the Rev. Canon Mark Sims, rector of St. Mary Magdalene Church in Coral Gables.

“We will serve a traditional dinner of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, drink and dessert. We will also make sandwiches and to-go meals, to be delivered to individuals who are homeless on the streets of downtown Fort Lauderdale,” said Sims, who has challenged the constitutionality of the city ordinance.

And Norman Lee, 63, says he will consider himself an honored guest at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit where he plans to arrive bright and early for a Thanksgiving meal.

“It’s real nice, especially when you’re out on the street and no one invited you for the family dinner, and you have no money to spend for a nice meal,” added Lee, a self-described regular at the church’s five-day-a-week soup kitchen, a collaborative effort among several local congregations.

“They serve turkey dinner first thing in the morning, starting about 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m.,” Lee said. And not just turkey but “all the fixings, cranberry sauce, dressing. They bring it to your seat. They dress up the kitchen; they decorate it and put tablecloths on the table and decorations to set the mood.”

It reminds him of holidays past, “to be able to have a real, old-fashioned dinner,” he said.

Marianne Arbogast, who manages the church’s Manna Community Meal soup kitchen, said she expects to serve between 700 and 800 meals on Thanksgiving Day with the help of hundreds of volunteers.

In Southern California, one woman’s gift of love has multiplied by the thousands.

Kim McCurdy, a parishioner at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Claremont began sharing Thanksgiving meals with a few homeless people 21 years ago.

This year, with the help of volunteers, McCurdy and her catering business partner Gayle Jensen will help organize, cook and distribute meals for several thousand people at the church and four other locations in Southern California.

When she noticed homeless and hungry people “it reminded me of when I was growing up in Vietnam,” she said. “My mother had eight children and my father died young. We were hungry all the time.”

McCurdy approached her rector about wanting to help feed local people who are homeless. She and Jensen use the parish’s kitchen and their efforts have garnered thousands of donated turkeys and other food items. The women also have organized a weekly interfaith food program that feeds hundreds.

“There are so many working poor and people alone, seniors, and people are hungry year-round,” Jensen said.

In Ohio and Virginia: Boxing up holiday delights
Jill Burket Ragase’s 6-year-old twins, Pippa and Truman, and even her 18-month-old twins, Penelope and Quentin, are “Thanksgiving box experts now.”

And Ragase, volunteer coordinator for Cincinnati’s Episcopal Church of the Redeemer’s Thanksgiving outreach program, says she thinks they may even understand a little bit about food scarcity because they’ve rubbed elbows with those experiencing it.

Sharing a family ministry while helping others is a reason she agreed to lead Redeemer’s program this year, said Ragase. She and other volunteers recently divvied up an estimated 940 sticks of butter, 2,820 extra large eggs and enough 5-pound bags of potatoes to fill 250 boxes with turkey and all the ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal for local working poor residents.

“We are so blessed,” said Ragase. “A local grocery store offers the turkeys at 99 cents a pound and gives us 10 percent off the rest of the perishable items. So, I got to go and order those this week.”

According to Sharon Jenkins, Redeemer’s communications director, the parish has partnered for several years with the Madisonville Education and Assistance Center (MEAC) and negotiates with the grocery store “to get the turkeys at a reduced rate, and we include eggs, potatoes, and all the makings for a big meal.”

After donated bundles of corrugated boxes arrive, parishioners sign up in October to commit to fill at least one. “Some take as many as three boxes,” increasing this year’s total from the 225 filled in 2013, Ragase said.

Parishioners “include a $15 donation toward the cost of the turkeys” and the boxes come with a shopping list for nonperishable items such as macaroni shells, mashed potatoes, stuffing mix, pie filling and pie crust mixes. The boxes are filled and then “this week is the best part” because the turkeys arrive, Ragase said Nov. 21.

On Nov. 22, volunteers arrived in shifts, some to pick up turkeys and other perishables from the local grocery store, others to deliver the boxes to MEAC’s food pantry for a Nov. 23 distribution.

Similarly, members of Historic Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, helped fill boxes with turkey and all the trimmings for 150 local families to make a complete Thanksgiving meal, according to development director Tara Knox.

“The families are Alexandrians who have requested assistance from the church’s Lazarus Outreach Ministry which serves local people in need,” according to Knox.

On Nov. 23, youth in grades six to 12 helped set up for the food distribution by converting part of the parish hall into a Thanksgiving food pantry, she said. They receive donated turkeys and canned goods.

When those who’ve requested assistance arrive, a personal shopper accompanies them through the pantry, Knox said.

“It’s a nice opportunity to have their family meal cooked in their own home,” she said. “And it’s really fun for us because everybody can get in on the act and the kids get to set up the food pantry. It’s kind of fancy, and the Sunday school kids put together treats and inspirational messages to go with the bags.”

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

California Bishop Marc Andrus’s statement on Ferguson, Missouri

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 7:00pm

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

I learned with disappointment and not a little surprise last night’s decision of the grand jury to not indict Office Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. I learned, with disappointment also, the protests planned at the Ferguson Police Department offices were broken up with teargas almost as soon as they started, and there were fires and looting later in the night – a scene repeated locally. The anger of a people who trusted a justice system to be their voice, felt justice was denied; theirs was a righteous anger, and their voices yearned to be heard. The violence and destruction is condemned, the purpose it serves perpetuates the narrative norm in our communities that violence begets violence.

I ask us to work to end the violence — this violence in our communities must end. The FBI released a report recently that 27 police officers died in the line of duty last year, but that report did not mention the number of persons killed by police officers in the same period. A Washington Post report from police departments estimated 400 ‘justified homicides’ by police departments in the same period, a number believed to greatly underestimate all police killings. [1] Each of these violent deaths — of police and of citizens — denied the humanity of the victim, denied their right and respected place as one of our brothers and sisters, lovingly created by God.

The shooting death of Michael Brown, who lay unattended in the street for four hours, was a violent and tragic death. This violence must stop. This lack of respect of the dead must stop. We are lovingly created by God to have a place in this world, equally loved; we all matter. All of us, we matter, and we should be respected.

In Clayton, near Ferguson, local clergy marched today singing the old Gospel hymn,

“Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around,”

With new lyrics

“Ain’t gonna let injustice turn me around, turn me around, turn me around,
Ain’t gonna let injustice turn me around, gonna keep on walking, keep on talking, marching on to Freedom’s Land.” [2]

This Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, the lesson from Isaiah 64 reminds us how God’s people turned away, yet in troubled times continue to return to God:

From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember iniquity for ever.
Now consider, we are all your people. (Isaiah 64.4, 7-9)

We are all the work of God’s hand, and turn to God for the love and support, as are God responds to the people:

They shall not labor in vain,
or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord—
and their descendants as well.
Before they call I will answer,
while they are yet speaking I will hear. (Isaiah 65.23-24)

I commend to you the tireless work of positive groups for change, such as Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere and the Diocese of California’s recently-formed Urban Peace Collaborative; groups such as these are where our energy and support are needed.

I ask your prayers for peace and the end of violence in Ferguson, in Oakland, in our communities. I ask your prayers, for the Brown family in Ferguson, for the Niehto family in San Francisco, and the family of Perla Avinin Oakland [3], for peace and justice for all families affected by violence.

I ask your prayers for justice and the end of violence, because we all matter, each one of our lives matter. I ask your prayers knowing that God does not hide God’s face from us, because we are God’s people. Because we will, with God’s help, turn this about this horrid course of pain and destruction and injustice in our communities.

As the hymn says
Ain’t gonna let injustice turn us around,
Gonna keep on a-walkin’
Keep on a-talkin’
Marchin’ on to Freedom’s Land…

[1] Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post Online retrieved 11/24/14, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/11/24/fbi-reports-27-cops-were-killed-last-year-but-how-many-civilians-were-killed-by-officers/

[2] Huffington Post, retrieved 11/24/14, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/25/clergy-sing-ferguson_n_6218422.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

[3] Malaika Frayley, Oakland Tribune, retrieved 11/25/14, http://www.insidebayarea.com/News/ci_26856978/Man-charged-in-womans-fatal-shooting-last-month

Presiding Bishop’s statement on the way forward from Ferguson

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 5:15pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement on the way forward from Ferguson:

The Episcopal Church joins many others in deep lament over the tragic reality that continues to be revealed in Ferguson, Missouri. The racism in this nation is part of our foundation, and is not unique to one city or state or part of the country. All Americans live with the consequences of centuries of slavery, exploitation, and prejudice. That legacy continues to lead individuals to perceive threat from those who are seen as “other.” The color of one’s skin is often the most visible representation of what divides God’s children one from another.

Michael Brown’s death was and is a tragedy, and has become a powerful witness to those divisions between human beings in this nation. His death also carries the potential to become a sacramental offering – if it continues to challenge us to address our divisions and the injustices in this nation that are far more than skin deep.

This nation was founded with a vision for freedom, a vision that has required repeated challenges in order to move toward true liberty for all the people of this land. Christians understand the sacred vision of the Reign of God as a society of peace with justice for all. May the life and death of Michael Brown drive us toward reconciliation that will shake the foundations of this nation toward the justice for which we were all created. The Episcopal Church will continue to partner and push for racial reconciliation in Missouri and across this land. I ask you to stand with hands extended in love, to look for the image of God in every neighbor, and to offer yourself in vulnerability for the sake of reconciliation across this land. May we become instruments of God’s peace and healing, made evident in communities of justice for all.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith’s statement on Ferguson, Missouri

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 3:06pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Missouri] The prosecutor and grand jury in Saint Louis County have spoken in the matter of Michael Brown’s shooting death, but theirs is hardly the last word in this tragedy. These past hours have heard many expressions of broken trust in the system. Some expressions have been violent, to my anguish and disappointment. But many more have been peaceful and a sign of hope.

Our Church and our Diocese have responded throughout this crisis in many ways: with prayer, through providing material aid, in opening our doors to offer places of safety, and by finding various and courageous ways to stand in the gap. In the face of so much broken trust, the gospel demands for the ministry of reconciliation will require us to stay in that uncomfortable gap. That means that we can expect to become agents of Christ’s reconciliation. But it also means that, with our haunted pasts of racism and its current reality, we will ourselves need to be reconciled. That may prove the harder part.

In consultation with many others in our Diocese, I hope in the months ahead to marshal available resources, both for us to become better reconcilers — and also to be reconciled. All for the sake of Jesus Christ, who is our Peace and through whom we are being reconciled to God.

Wayne Smith
Tenth Bishop of Missouri

New Jersey Bishop Stokes’ statement on Ferguson, Missouri

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 2:39pm

[Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey] Many will debate the justice (or lack thereof) accomplished by the refusal to indict the officer who shot unarmed Michael Brown dead. What is indisputable are the disparities in the systems that so often lead to tragic consequences such as Ferguson–disparities which include hiring and promotion policies that have led to a predominantly white law enforcement with white senior officers policing communities of color; which include disparities in the practice of traffic stops where young men of color are stopped far more often for minor traffic offenses, and which include disparities in the rate of arrests and convictions for minor drug possessions.

What is indisputable is that all of us are living in a society with disparities and not how God intended us to live. And these disparities have tragic consequences.

Each time we gather to share an Undoing Racism two-and-a-half day training, we surround ourselves with a Wall of History. It begins with the European invasion of the 15th century that led to the annihilation of over 90% of the Native American population and continues to the present day.  Along the way, we come to the 1896 Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson, which sanctioned the provision of “separate but equal” facilities and services for white people and persons of color. It brings a moment of pause and reflection. From today forward, the name “Ferguson” will stand alone.

We remember Trayvon Martin, who died unarmed from gunshot wounds 2 years ago. Those of us with longer memories recall Amadou Diallo, the young man immortalized in Bruce Springsteen’s haunting “American Skin (41 Shots)”. But how many of us have ever heard of Patrick Dorismund, Orlando Barlow, Ousmane Zongo, Timothy Stansbury, Jr., Aaron Campbell, James Brissette, Ronald Matison, Travares McGill, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Jerrod Miller, Victor Steen, Steven Eugene Washington, Alonzo Ashley, Wendell Allen, Ramarley Graham, Ervin Jefferson, Kendree McDade or Kimani Gray? All were shot unarmed by police officers or security guards between 2000 and 2013. All were men of color, averaging just 23 years of age.

We do not condone the violence of some in reaction to this fateful decision. We understand and share the anger behind it. We pledge ourselves to channel our anger into action. The Wall of History is not merely a witness to the presence of racism from our country’s beginnings; it is a witness to the resistors who have fought the sin of racism in every generation, from Bartolome de las Casas to Sojourner Truth to William Wilberforce to The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let us stand together on their broad shoulders, decrying the sin of racism wherever it is found. Pray for Ferguson. Pray for justice. Pray for peace. Join us as we put our bodies where our mouths are, becoming a part of our prayer’s answer; striving together for justice and peace as anti-racists; for the love of the One in whose image we have all been created, through whose Son we have all been redeemed and by whose Spirit we have been empowered for the ministry of reconciliation.

Faithfully Yours in Christ,
The Right Reverend William H. (Chip) Stokes, D.D.

Long Island Bishop Provenzano’s statement on Ferguson, Missouri

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 1:52pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Long Island] As we awaken this morning to images of violence and the destruction of property in Ferguson and other cities, and confront our anger and disappointment at the decision of the grand jury in Ferguson, I am struck by how much work is before us.

I am struck by how many words have been spoken and how little real change has occurred in understanding issues of race in our nation.

If, as it appears by the evidence presented, the law is on the side of an armed police officer shooting an unarmed suspect, then the law must be changed and evenly applied to all people; the police better trained to defuse confrontation with the public and above all a recognition of the issues of race and prejudice that inform the actions of all involved.

I must recommend to the people of our Diocese the Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of the Church in 1994.  We must make it our work to go back and read and learn and then apply the wisdom of our tradition to this and every other situation that so affects God’s people.

Our prayers go out to the family of Michael Brown, the police and their families, and the people of Ferguson.

Our prayers go out for peace, calm and faithful indignation that will bring about change. Real and lasting change.

The Right Reverend Lawrence C. Provenzano
Bishop of Long Island
The Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk
The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island

 

‘Future is bright’ for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 12:32pm

[Episcopal News Service – Charleston, South Carolina] The three newest mission congregations of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina worship in two United Methodist churches and a former martial arts studio next to a barbecue joint and a bar.

On Nov. 15, the members of the Episcopal Church in Okatie, Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Myrtle Beach and East Cooper Episcopal Church became the sixth, seventh and eighth such congregations to have formed in the last two years. Their membership brings to 30 the number of congregations that form The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

The three newest missions’ worship arrangements are not unusual for such fledgling congregations in the Low Country of South Carolina. For instance, the Episcopal Church on Edisto began meeting in a barbecue restaurant and now shares space with New First Missionary Baptist Church, an African-American Baptist church that worships in a newer building next door.

Members of the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina march up the aisle of Church of the Holy Communion in Charleston Nov. 15 to be welcomed as a mission congregation of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Florence meets in the Back Swamp Schoolhouse, a 1921 wood-frame building with neither heat nor air conditioning.

St. Francis Episcopal Church in Charleston meets in a funeral home chapel, J. Henry Stuhr’s West Ashley Chapel. In October, the mission congregation held an animal blessing service at the dog park down the street.

Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Summerville shares space with an African-American congregation, Wesley United Methodist Church, and holds Sunday school in the public library around the corner.

And St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Conway worships in the interdenominational Lackey Chapel of Coastal Carolina University.

“Unlikely groups have been the most welcoming of us,” South Carolina Bishop Provisional Charles vonRosenberg told ENS.

Beginning November 2012, and in some cases earlier, many Episcopalians felt forced to leave their parish homes in a dispute led by then-diocesan Bishop Mark Lawrence over policy decisions made by the wider Episcopal Church. Lawrence was deemed to have renounced his Episcopal orders.

Members of the East Cooper Episcopal Church in the Charleston area accept applause at Church of the Holy Communion in Charleston Nov. 15 after being officially welcomed as a mission congregation of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS

Those who wished to remain in The Episcopal Church are now part of what is known as The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. The entity has been so named since Jan. 26, 2013 in order to comply with a temporary restraining order that prevented the group from using the diocesan seal and the names “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” “The Diocese of South Carolina” and “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.”

“The Exodus event seems to relate to our experiences in various ways,” vonRosenberg said during his address to the church’s 224th annual convention Nov. 15. “For instance, I have heard from many of you about the sense and reality of oppression in this part of the church, in previous times. Then, a kind of separation and exodus took place. And now, people of God, we find ourselves traveling through the wilderness.”

Theirs is not a barren wilderness, however, vonRosenberg said during an ENS interview prior to the convention. In addition to numerical growth, there has been spiritual growth.

“There’s meaning here, which is deep and profound. It has to do with building community, knowing what is important, claiming that and wanting to go forward with that conviction,” he said. “We’re not looking back because the future is bright and what’s in the past is something that we don’t need or want to relive.”

Or as Andrea McKellar, St. Francis’ senior warden, put it: “It’s been very joyful. It’s a truly resurrection experience that we went from what seemed in the first days to be the worst situation in the world to now I wouldn’t change anything about it.”

These eight new worshiping communities are pilgrims, journeying towards a destination they may not yet see clearly but knowing they are committed to being Episcopalians, the bishop and others said.

“There’s a holy patience” among those pilgrims, said the Ven. Calhoun Walpole, who serves as archdeacon of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

“People know that they won’t see the fruits. There’s a deep sense that I see; a deep understanding that the harvest is not ours; that it can never be ours, it’s the Lord’s; that we are here laboring in these fields right now, laboring for future generations,” said Walpole, who is also vicar of Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston. “You boil that all down and it’s the church being the church. It’s what the church has done in every time in every generation in every place. We just have the gift of experiencing a heightened sense of that reality.”

Those people who are experiencing that reality have made the sacrifice of leaving church buildings that held parts of their families’ histories and in some cases family and friends who also carried that history, vonRosenberg and Walpole said. And Walpole suggested that other sacrifices are being made as well, acknowledging that some Episcopalians have stayed in the parishes that have followed Lawrence’s lead.

“I think the story that is not told for obvious reasons is the story of those people who have made the decision to stay in their respective parishes that broke away,” Walpole explained. “I believe those numbers are large and I believe those people, while they may not even use the language of ‘call’ or even ‘sacrifice,’ knowingly or unknowingly are continuing to bear witness quietly to the presence of The Episcopal Church in those parishes.”

In the midst of The Episcopal Church’s reorganization in South Carolina, its members were called during the Nov. 14-15 convention to look outward, as well as inward. The convention’s theme was “Christ to the world we bring.” Its leaders wanted to start to change the church’s focus from survival to mission, while reestablishing a sense of Episcopal and Anglican identity and accountability. VonRosenberg said the leadership wants to encourage all of its congregations, and especially its start-ups, “to be recognized in the larger community for a purpose which involves the mission of Jesus.”

More than 300 people attended the convention, including 77 lay delegates and 36 clergy members. Information about the work of the convention, held at Church of the Holy Communion in Charleston, is here. The Rev. Thomas Brackett, Episcopal Church missioner for new church starts and missional initiatives, conducted a series of workshops on Nov. 14 as part of that effort. The Rev. Canon Mark Stevenson, domestic poverty missioner for The Episcopal Church, also spoke to the convention.

And former Southern Malawi Bishop James Tengatenga, who chairs the Anglican Consultative Council, was the preacher during the opening Eucharist. Tengatenga’s presence was meant to show the church and the wider community that, in vonRosenberg’s words during his address, “The Episcopal Church is the only recognized member of the Anglican Communion in this country.”

During the business part of the convention, delegates unanimously rolled back constitutional and canonical changes made by Lawrence-led conventions to pull the church away from The Episcopal Church. Chancellor Thomas Tisdale told the convention that the Nov. 15 corrective actions had the effect of “making us a part of The Episcopal Church.”

Legal work remains to be done. There are court actions focused on which group should have legal control of the Diocese of South Carolina. And while vonRosenberg and other leaders do not want to focus the Episcopalians on the court actions, those legal cases do make a claim on the organization’s attention and finances. And the bishop says they represent important work for the Episcopalians’ reorganization and their future “in this part of South Carolina.” Details about the court actions are here.

Still, vonRosenberg told ENS, Episcopalians in South Carolina are telling him that “we’re not looking back because the future is bright and what’s in the past is something that we don’t need or want to relive.”

Eve Pinckey, a founding member of the Episcopal Church in Okatie who now serves on its vestry, describes it this way: “We’re going to grow, grow, grow and love, love, love one another, just as we always have. It’s going to be wonderful. I can’t wait.”

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

Video: The pilgrims of the Episcopal Church in Okatie

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 12:31pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church in Okatie, which recently became an official mission of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, is on a journey of renewal which began on a dock.

Women’s conference gathers Episcopalians from Brazil, Uruguay

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 11:59am

On the first day of the Nov. 8-9 conference each woman was given two small squares of paper, one with an open eye and the other a closed eye. On the closed eye they were asked to list things, people, situations, in their communities that were stopped, held back, asleep or dead. On the square with the open eye they were asked to list things, people, situations that have been held up or given life by the church. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – Montevideo, Uruguay] Some of the women began saving money more than six months in advance and some traveled 12 hours by bus across the border to attend a bi-national conference, which has united for more than eight years Brazilian and Uruguayan women through stories of challenge, courage, strength and love.

Their world is changing, and a few women are moving into leadership roles. Yet much needs to be done to carry out the pioneering Convention of Belém, which required countries who signed it 20 years ago to educate their people about women’s rights, to fight machismo and pass laws to protect women from violence.

Earlier this month, 100 women and more than a dozen men representing the three southern most dioceses – Southwest, Southern, and Pelotas – of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil and the Anglican Diocese of Uruguay gathered at a spiritual retreat center 30 minutes outside the capital here for a two-day conference focused on the theme “church women committed to social change.”

The annual gathering offers the space, said the women, for the storytelling and relationship-building that empowers them in their lives and their community ministries; one of the ways women are committed to social change in their communities is through building awareness about gender-based violence prevention and intervention.

Violence against women and children is prevalent and often commonplace throughout Latin America, where often “women are not even aware of the violence they are in, or they believe that they are the only ones being abused,” said Christina Takatsu Winnischofer, president of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil’s Women’s Union.

Throughout the Nov. 8-9 meeting, women and men shared stories of church and community ministries and social programs that were working well and those that faced challenges, ranging from having the resources to address the community’s needs to the red tape and restrictions that apply when churches work with government agencies to provide social services.

The focus on violence against women and children, the majority of that being domestic violence, was a theme that carried over from the previous year’s conference held in the Diocese of Southern Brazil.

The U.S.-based Episcopal Church, which shares a covenant agreement with the church in Brazil (which became an autonomous province in 1965), also had a presence at the two-day conference, with the Rev. Glenda McQueen, the officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Rev. David Copley, officer for mission personnel, both of whom work in the church’s office of global partnerships; Episcopal Church-appointed missionaries Monica Vega and Heidi Schmidt, who are serving the province of Brazil, and Young Adult Service Corps missionaries Nina Boe of the Diocese of Olympia and Kirsten Lowell of the Diocese of Maine, who serve in the Diocese of Rio de Janeiro and the Diocese of Uruguay, respectively.

From left, the Rev. David Copley, the Episcopal Church’s officer for mission personnel, Episcopal Church-appointed missionary Monica Vega, Young Adult Service Corps missionary Kirsten Lowell, Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva, primate of the Province of Brazil, Young Adult Service Corps missionary Nina Boe, and Episcopal Church-appointed missionary Heidi Schmidt. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

“There is this movement toward addressing women’s issues in our churches today, which is critical,” said Vega, who in addition to serving the church’s provincial office, also works with a nonprofit organization that works to empower women street vendors.

To work on women’s issues is not something to do because it is trendy, she added, “but because it’s a sign of the Kingdom. Giving back dignity to women is a sign of the Kingdom, that’s what Jesus did.”

Uruguay, one of the smallest countries in terms of both land area and population in South America, shares borders with two of the largest, Argentina to the west and the much larger Brazil to its north and east. There are 200 million people in Brazil compared with 3.5 million in Uruguay, with 9 percent and 11.5 percent of the population living in poverty, respectively, according to data from the World Bank.

Still, when it comes to violence against women, size, income and other development data don’t tell the story of what the United Nations calls a “pandemic in diverse forms.” An average of 68 domestic violence cases were reported daily in Uruguay in 2013; Amnesty International has criticized the government for its inability to respond adequately to cases of violence against women. Between 2001 and 2011 more than 50,000 women were murdered mainly as a result of domestic violence, according to the Brazilian Institute for Applied Research. Brazil is the seventh most dangerous country in the world as measured by rates of violence toward women.

During the Nov. 9 Eucharist service, women in pairs acted out an exercise that demonstrated what it’s like when women are treated as things, or objects – the point being that when women are treated as things, they don’t matter.

When the church first started talking about violence against women it walked into uncharted territory because “violence against women isn’t something you talk about in the church,” said Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva, Brazil’s primate since 2013, and bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Brazil.

Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva, Brazil’s primate and bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Brazil, Bishop Michele Pollesel of the Anglican Diocese of Uruguay, and Bishop Humberto Maiztegue, of the Diocese of Southern Brazil. Bishop Renato Da Cruz Raatz of the Diocese of Pelotas also attended the conference. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

It was something, however, that the church needed to do despite the “taboo,” da Silva said when he addressed the conference on its second day. When the church began talking about violence against women, it couldn’t deny that it exists in the church as well, and that unfortunately men don’t see it as an important topic.

“It’s something that is presented by women, for women,” he said, and that’s one of the biggest obstacles to addressing the violence against women and children. “It’s something that men need to bring to the table.”

Taking the lead on women’s rights
Coordinated by Anglican Service of Diakonia and Development (SADD), which coordinates social services and projects at all levels of the church, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil embarked on a two–year study of human rights, which through grassroots feedback led to a focus on domestic violence, explained Sandra Andrade, the director of SADD.

In August 2013, SADD, in partnership with Christian Aid, released its first booklet aimed at the prevention and intervention of gender-based violence against women. The booklet, which included 10 workshops aimed at both men and women, was later translated from Portuguese into Spanish and English with the help of Episcopal Relief & Development; it since has been shared in Latin America as well as Africa.

A second version of the booklet updated with an additional workshop on HIV prevention strategies was released earlier this year and distributed at the conference.

“Domestic Violence Against Women is a consequence of a culture constructed by a society that promotes inequalities based on the differences considered to be natural (biological) between the sexes, which determine how each person should behave because they are of one gender or another,” it reads.

“Just as in all social spaces, the religious communities are not exempt from this reality and, often, contribute to the perpetration of this violence through their declarations and practices. Therefore, if as religious communities we are capable of practicing gender-related violence against women, we can also admit that we are capable of overcoming and beating this reality and of building a culture of peace based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Isolation
Amazonia, which covers more than 2 million square miles of Northern Brazil, can feel particularly isolated since it often is disconnected from government services. A bishop and two priests cover nine distinct communities where domestic violence is prevalent. “Women are literally dying from violence,” said Maria Elizabeth Santos Teixeira, a policewoman from the Diocese of Amazonia who serves as vice president of the Women’s Union.

“It’s one thing to say that there are difficulties, it’s another to be able to sit with others and tell your stories,” said Santos Teixeira.

The isolation Santos Teixeira sometimes feels in Amazonia can be felt in Uruguay as well. The Diocese of Uruguay was thwarted in its attempt in 2012 to become part of the province of Brazil.

The Uruguayan women’s participation in the conference began out of a companion diocese relationship with the Diocese of Southwest Brazil, but the relationship extends beyond that. The church in Uruguay is more connected to the church in Brazil than to its own province.

“It was the work with southern Brazil that really brought the church in Uruguay back to life; they really worked with getting a grassroots church going,” said the Rt. Rev. Michele Pollesel, who became the bishop of Uruguay in 2013 after first being rejected by the bishops of the Anglican Church of South America, formerly called the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

One of the things the church in Uruguay has long fought for, said Pollesel, is women’s ordination, which he said he believes will come in the next 12 months as the province is in the process of approving new provincial canons.

In Brazil, a long history of women’s involvement
The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil has existed for 150 years in what is considered a mostly Roman Catholic country. In contrast, the Diocese of Uruguay celebrated 25 years in 2014 in a largely secular country that is considered the most liberal in Latin America.

Despite Uruguay’s liberal reputation, women aren’t typically seen in decision-making roles in society; the same goes for the church.

Church women in Uruguay tend to take a more traditional role, providing support at the parish level, said Gabriela Nuñez, a lay leader and psychologist who is married to a priest.

On the other hand, the Episcopal Anglican Women’s Union has existed in Brazil under different names for more than 100 years, and adopted its existing name in the 1980s “to reflect the need for women to be united,” said Winnischofer, the union’s president and general secretary of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil from 2003 to 2006.

The name change also symbolized a shift in focus from what had been a traditional auxiliary role in support of the church, the elderly and the poor, to one that included women’s needs; and it happened at a time when church women came together in support of women’s ordination, which also raised the issue of the status of women in the church, said Winnischofer.

The Rev. Carmen Gomes, the first woman ordained in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, presided at the Nov. 9 Eucharist. Photo: David Copley

In 1985, the Rev. Carmen Gomes became the first woman ordained in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, which today has 30 women priests serving throughout its nine dioceses. Additionally, women have served in leadership roles at all levels of the church.

Through meetings, sharing stories and offering support for one another, the Women’s Union still works to raise the status of women in the church and society, a task that’s ever more difficult when women have full-time work and family demands, said Winnischofer.

“Women are more visible in society,” she said, but they are still underrepresented in leadership roles despite the advances. She said the persistent attitude has been that “on the one hand we are visible and have a presence, that we don’t need to come to the table because we are already in the room.”

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

Persecution may be ‘tip of the iceberg,’ say Peshawar Christians

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 11:39am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Christians in Pakistan worry that the persecution they have experienced to date may be “just the tip of the iceberg.”

In the latest newsletter from the Diocese of Peshawar, a list of 22 incidents of violence against Christians in the country since 2013 accompanied a warning that “things are likely to get worse” because of the possibility of the presence of an extremist group called “Daish” (ISIS) in Pakistan.

Along with the 2013 twin suicide bombing of All Saints’ Church, Peshawar – that killed 119 people and injured many more – the writer compiled other attacks on Christians in Pakistan from information provided by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

These included an assassination attempt on a Christian lawyer in Lahore; a 58-year-old man killed for allegedly blaspheming Islam; shops belonging to Christians in Islamabad being burned down; several people being killed for converting to Christianity; and Christian girls raped and, in some instances, forced to convert to Islam.

The most recent incident was the burning of a Christian couple, Shahzad and Shama Bibi, in a brick kiln following trumped up blasphemy charges. [Read a report about it here].

November’s special edition of the Frontier News newsletter, with the headline The Diocese Condemns!, contained a report of the protest march earlier in the month led by the diocese. It started at St. John’s Cathedral and ended at the Peshawar Press Club where church leaders held a press conference to condemn the murders.

The newsletter author wrote, “According to the sources, Shahzad and his wife Shama Bibi came to Chak-59 for their livelihood. The owner of the kiln Yousaf Gujar, over a dispute about a non-payment of advance money, locked the couple in a room and called upon the villagers. He blamed the couple for blasphemy. After severely beating them, the infuriated mob threw them in the brick kiln and set them afire.

“Once again, the personal vendetta against poor Christians is changed into the allegation of Blasphemy Law of Pakistan. This section of the law is always used, rather misused against the Christians for their persecution and extra judicial killings in Pakistan.”

Speaking at the press conference, Bishop Munawar Rumalshah, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Peshawar, said the incident was “a national disgrace” and called the government to bring the killers to book.

He added, “The Christians of Pakistan are law abiding citizens, and they respect other people’s beliefs. Christians believe in peaceful co-existence of different religions and always play a proactive and positive role for interfaith harmony in the region.”

The diocese’s newsletter concluded: “Nowadays, talking against the blasphemy law in any manner has itself become an act of blasphemy. This is just the tip of the iceberg, things are likely to get worse as there are rumours of the presence of an extremist group called “Daish” (ISIS) in Pakistan.”

Kansas Bishop Dean Wolfe’s statement on Ferguson, Missouri

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 11:32am

[Episcopal Diocese of Kansas] Diocese of Kansas Bishop Dean Wolfe wrote the following letter to his diocese in response to recent developments in Ferguson, Missouri.

Dear Friends,

Like many of you, I waited with some trepidation for the grand jury to announce its decision on whether or not to indict a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, this past summer. As I’ve said previously, Ferguson is not so far from Kansas City or Topeka or Wichita, and the racial tensions ignited by this incident are present in our own diocese.

With the announcement of the grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer, tensions are running high, and even though the parents of Michael Brown have begged their community to be peaceful in responding to this decision, it appears some have used the situation as a rationale for damaging property and instigating further violence.

In the wake of these incidents, I invite the members of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas to pray for peace and justice in Ferguson and throughout our nation.

I ask you to pray for peace and justice for people of every race and economic condition.

I ask you to pray for the safety of everyone involved in this situation, including the members of the law enforcement community who risk their lives daily to ensure the safety of their fellow citizens.

I ask you to remember Michael Brown’s family who mourns the death of their son, and for Officer Darren Wilson and his family who have lost something precious and irreplaceable as well. No one ever gets over losing a son to violence, and no one ever gets over taking the life of another human being.

Every single day young men and women die in the streets of this great nation, and we must pray and work much, much harder to eliminate the conditions that contribute to this costly violence.

I am glad the people of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Ferguson, continue to be hard at work serving their community, and I pray their witness will continue to be a bold and faithful one. May the parishes of our diocese be equally committed to serving our communities in the name of Christ, and may we always remember the words of our Lord who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

In Christ,

+Dean

The Right Reverend Dean E. Wolfe
Ninth Bishop
The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas

Advent resources compiled by Episcopal Church Foundation

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 8:54am

[Episcopal Church Foundation Vital Practices] Links to free Advent resources, calendars and devotions, reflections, St. Nicholas Day, and preparing for Christmas visitors at your church.

Calendars and Devotions
2014 Advent Devotional Calendar – A beautiful, simple, and low tech calendar for Advent. Download, print, and share.

Celebrate Advent Using Your Camera Phones – Join Episcopal and Anglican churches around the world in celebrating Advent through prayer, meditation, and by contributing to a global Advent calendar on Instagram.

Advent Words – This Advent, the SSJE Brothers invite you to join them in looking clearly and honestly at our lives and taking action. Subscribe to their calendar and every day a new gift will arrive, offering you a moment of solace and reflection on the true meaning of Advent and the coming Christmas season.

Episcopal Relief & Development Advent Toolkit provides tools and inspiration to help plan and carry out an Advent program centered around Gifts for Life.

Advent Meditations – Daily meditations from the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland beginning November 30. Available in text and audio versions.

Who Will You Invite to the Manger? When Jesus was born, he was surrounded by parents, shepherds, and later the wise men. This reflection invites you to consider who do we welcome at the manger? How do we extend the invitation so that all feel welcome?

CREDO Advent Series – A collection of short, daily audio reflections presented by Barbara Crafton, this series is will also be available as a podcast. (From 2013)

Episcopal Intercultural Network – Each day during Advent, they are offering a daily devotion on their Facebook page. (From 2013)

Messiah: Joy is Foretold – Listen to musical selections while reading short reflections, this devotional book from St. John the Divine in Houston, Texas can be read and listened to online or downloaded to your computer. (From 2013)

From ECF Vital Practices
Advent: Taking it to the Streets – Our church brings ashes to the street on Ash Wednesday; how might we bring Advent to the streets during this hectic season?

Decorations – There is no war on Christmas, and if there is it’s not one the Episcopal church needs to fight.

Secrets of the Advent Artichoke – Feeling pressure to have everything done already? “Secrets of the Advent artichoke” for a season in which we prepare and anticipate

What Fresh Hell is This? – The wait demanded of us in Advent is a more difficult one with no tangible outcome accessible to us. A reflection to think about Advent through Joseph’s eyes as he travels to Bethlehem with Mary.

Preparing for Visitors
Advent Parish Checklist – Use this handy checklist for getting your church ready for visitors during Advent and Christmas.

Amp Up Your Hospitality – We all know that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but first impressions DO matter and we use them.

Christmas Messages – Short, simple, and powerful. Create a video message or ad for Christmas that’s easy to produce.

Hospitality Matters: Seeing Our Buildings Anew – What people see – or don’t see – when entering your church can make a lasting impression.

Prepare the Way for Visitors – In Advent we prepare the way for the birth of Jesus, but are visitors going to be able to find their way to your congregation at Christmas?

What ARE You Saying? – What we try to say – or forget to say – can make it difficult for visitors to feel welcome.

More From Mustard Seed Associates
A Journey Toward Home: Soul Travel For Advent to Lent – Who will we invite to the manger? An Advent/Christmas devotional from Mustard Seed Associates.

Advent Activities for Families and Kids – From making the better known Advent wreath to Advent spirals and Advent gardens and more…

Getting Ready for Advent/Christmas: Worship Resources for the Season – a collection of resources from around the world.

Helping Kids Give Back this Christmas

Scripture Reading for Advent and Beyond

Some Thoughts on Christmas Music

What About Simplifying This Christmas? Prayers and resources to help individuals and families simplify Christmas.

St. Nicholas Day
Celebrating St. Nichoals – Activities, articles, recipes, and more from the St. Nicholas Center.

St. Nicholas Connecting the Past and the Present – Richelle Thompson shares what happened when St. Nicholas visited her congregation.

St. Nicholas Day Resources – Jim Rosenthal shares tools for offering an in-depth look at Santa.

Resources from Around the Web
Advent in 2 Minutes – Not quite sure how to explain what exactly Advent is? This video by Busted Halo can help.

Children’s Sermons for Advent – These sermons are appropriate for churches of any size and with any number of children, ranging in age from young children to youth.

Reflection on Advent Video – Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury shares an Advent Reflection.

The Advent Wreath at Home – Ideas for making an Advent wreath at home and reflection questions for discussion.

Episcopal schools celebrate 50 years of education as mission

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 3:57pm

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori addresses the 50th anniversary gathering of the National Association of Episcopal Schools. Photo: Janet Kawamoto

[Episcopal News Service] The charisms of Episcopal schools – a “generous comprehensiveness, patience with ambiguity, and a search for wisdom grounded in a deep and abiding belief in the goodness and creativity of the world” – make them particularly suited to forming leaders for an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told a gathering Nov. 21 in Anaheim, California.

Some 570 teachers, heads of schools, bishops, parish rectors, administrators, chaplains and others from across the world gathered Nov. 20-22 to celebrate Episcopal education and the 50th anniversary of the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES).

“Episcopal education is about the big picture … overseeing, climbing up the hill in a strategic sense to see the whole landscape, and not only the immediate and very local context,” the presiding bishop said.

“It is about comprehension and inclusiveness; it’s an orientation toward the whole body rather than only one part. That fundamental given is why you gather students from so many different faith traditions and none, why you look for students from varied social locations, why Episcopal schools so often draw international students, why they increasingly seek to be more diverse than the communities in which they’re set.”

She challenged the group to consider a name that reflects its global character. School representatives from Haiti, Australia, and Canada were also in attendance.

Notable examples of education as mission include, she said, Cuttington University in Liberia, Rikkyo University in Japan, historic St. John’s in Shanghai, and Trinity University in Manila.

NAES encompasses more than 1,000 schools in the United States and other countries, according to the Rev. Dan Heischman, executive director.

“This is one of the most important and valued mission fields of the church, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “It’s about planting seeds. In terms of potential, the church frets a great deal about what it can do to reach the unchurched or people out there who might be interested in the Episcopal Church. Only about 20 percent of students who go to Episcopal schools are Episcopalian, so we have a tremendous opportunity of reaching people … of having a real impact in their lives in a variety of ways.”

Schools range in size from very small, such as the seven-student St. Timothy’s School in Compton, California, to the largest, Iolani, with more than 2,000 students in Honolulu, he said. Most tend to focus on preschool and early childhood development.

In addition to gathering educators for collaboration and networking, the conference “is casting a vision for the next 50 years,” Heischman said. “It’s an opportunity for Episcopal schools throughout the church to gather, to celebrate the wonderful things schools do and the impact they have. Many of our schools are isolated from one another.”

Retired Los Angeles Laker basketball great Earvin “Magic” Johnson addresses the NAES gathering. Photo: Janet Kawamoto

Retired Los Angeles Laker basketball great Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. addressed the gathering as a parent whose two children attended Campbell Hall, an Episcopal school in the Los Angeles area.

Johnson, who now is part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, the Los Angeles Sparks women’s national basketball team, and the Los Angeles Football Club, a professional soccer team, described the importance of sending his children – and now a grandchild – to an Episcopal school.

“A lot of times, you’ve got a thankless job because young people don’t understand what you’ve done for them. I’ve enjoyed every moment of my children going to Campbell Hall. I’m so proud of my kids going to Campbell Hall that I couldn’t see them at any other school,” he said.

“I love chapel on Fridays, but also each and every day they’re getting a quality education that didn’t change who they are as E.J. and Elisa. It allowed them to be themselves and have a little cool factor to them … because that’s important.”

He also described the importance of education in preparing young people to be leaders, including his own humble beginnings in urban Lansing, Michigan, where he and nine siblings lived in a three-room house.

A teacher asked him for help during a period of racial tension, and Johnson, 55, told the gathering, “that day God made me a leader,” a tradition he has since continued.

Workshop themes and conversations also focused on some of the challenges schools face, including maintaining an identity as an Episcopal school in the midst of changing demographics, technology, and an increasingly secular culture.

Keynote speaker psychologist Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids (HarperCollins, 2008), addressed how narrow definitions of success unnecessarily stress and marginalize creative students.

As a practicing psychologist her clients include kids who’ve “hit a wall because they’ve been so totally protected from failure, challenge, disappointment.”

Citing a parent who told her she couldn’t stand to see her child unhappy, Levine said, “If you can’t stand to see your child unhappy, you’re in the wrong business … because it’s a reality of life. How does a child go from having a favorite toy broken at five to having their heart broken by a first love at 15, to being fired at a first job at 25, to losing their own parents at 55… that’s just life and preparation for life includes not just college acceptances but a capacity to deal with challenge in ways that are healthy.”

She said one in four graduating high school seniors in affluent communities has a diagnosable mental illness. “In terms of the loss of potential children, it’s enormous. In terms of workers, it’s enormous. In terms of a vibrant democracy, it’s enormous. And if it was anything but mental illness there’d be a huge campaign, but mental health is a huge stepchild.”

She said a high school affiliated with Stanford University, California, where she works, “just had its seventh suicide in two years.” Contributing factors include a lack of support, a lack of meaning and a lack of wise adults mentoring them, she said.

The conference also featured more than 60 sessions on such wide-ranging topics as equity and justice; leadership and governance; the ministry of teaching; school life, culture and management; the study of religion; service and service-learning; and a self-study of Episcopal identity led by Heischman.

Daily worship and chapel featured young voices, including Mitra Alikhani, 17, a student at St. Margaret Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano, who preached about hope for the future and the Old Testament story of Jonah (Jonah 1:17).

“Often in our lives we find ourselves fleeing our purpose – whether we mean to or not. Thank goodness that the moment we goofs realize we’ve got it wrong, the moment it hits us that we’re really in trouble, God sends us a big old fish to swallow us whole,” she told the gathering.

“In other words, God gives us a chance to think, all the while actively carrying us toward our second chance. If we’re like the people of Nineveh, we allow that second chance to transform us. We take the hint of hope, the whisper of salvation, in any bad fix we’re in, and latch onto it. We can take God’s clue and make it the center of our lives.

“As a Christian and as an overly dramatic, hormonal teenager, this hope is the most important thing to me, the greatest comfort in my life,” she said.

“I look into the eyes of my parents, I look to the stories I’ve been told since I was a toddler, I look up into the starry night sky, and I feel God telling me that this hope is unbreakable. I strive to carry this knowledge into my daily life. It’s a challenge, something I think is a lifelong journey. The point is, the hope we find in God is just a small clue, and it doesn’t narrow anything down. Yet it means everything. My prayer is that I keep this clue before me as I go through my days, and that I value it for the miracle it is.”

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