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Michigan: Statement on President Trump’s executive order regarding refugees, travel from seven majority-Muslim countries

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 9:11am

[Episcopal Diocese of Michigan] President Trump’s order to ban all refugees and travel from seven majority-Muslim countries is facing significant legal challenges and vehement public opposition. We believe his actions to be unjust, unconstitutional and out of sync with basic human respect. However, it is not our intention to draw attention to the particular flaws and features of this order, or to delve into the dubious motives and callous disregard behind it, as these have been rehearsed repeatedly by credible news sources.

Instead, we want to reaffirm the Christian values that guide us as we try to navigate the difficult terrain we are crossing together as a nation. For the coming months and years will reveal not only who we are as Americans but, more fundamentally, who we are as Christians. It is with this long view in mind that we speak.

As Christians, we bear an inescapable responsibility to stand with those who are most vulnerable – the “least” of the “members” of God’s “family,” as Matthew writes in his Gospel (25:40). Our solidarity with others is based on Christ’s own solidarity with the widow, the orphan and the outcast.

This ministry Jesus calls us to as his disciples draws deeply from commandments in the Hebrew Bible to protect the powerless, oppressed and, furthermore, any “alien” living among the people of Israel. Thus, we read in Leviticus:

“The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (19:34).

This obligation not only reflects a major theme in the Scriptures, but it goes with the grain of the universe and represents the arc of justice that all people of faith recognize and live by. It lies at the foundation of the human rights we have long recognized as being essential for a just and good society.

Therefore, we are writing to ask you to join us as we prayerfully stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters who have been treated so harshly and unjustly by this executive order. We are also writing to ask you to pray for President Trump, that God would open his eyes to the error of his ways.

Finally, we are asking that we all stand together, enriched as we are by our many diverse languages, religions, ethnicities and cultures. May our unity in diversity shine with God’s light in this time of fracture.

The Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs Jr.
10th Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Michigan

The Rev. Canon Dr. William J. Danaher Jr.
Canon for Interfaith and Ecumenical Relations
Rector, Christ Church Cranbrook, Bloomfield Hills

Massachusetts bishops join church leaders opposing refugee restriction

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 4:53am
[Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts] Bishop Alan M. Gates and Bishop Gayle E. Harris of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, together with Bishop Douglas J. Fisher of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, have signed a joint letter from 17 church leaders, issued today by the Massachusetts Council of Churches, opposing the White House executive action suspending refugee resettlement.

The full letter is available here.

An accompanying message from Bishop Gates to the diocesan community follows:

Dear People of the Diocese of Massachusetts,

We are struggling mightily with the turmoil of transition.  We are a nation bitterly divided.  While some argue that necessary correctives are at play, many of us feel that we are in danger of losing our moral compass.  In either case, we have no option other than to bring the core principles of our religious tradition to bear on current decisions.  Our positions as Christians are determined not by party affiliation, nor by self-interest–neither personal self-interest nor national self-interest.  Rather, our Christian positions must be determined by the core values of our faith.

This past Sunday we read, as assigned by our lectionary cycle, from a text which speaks directly to us as people of faith caught in political tumult and ethical debate.  When the chosen people of God expressed uncertainty as to how they were to move forward faithfully, the prophet Micah spoke to them with breathtaking clarity:  “God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” [Micah 6:8]

Do justice.  Love kindness.  Walk humbly with your God.  In its stark simplicity the prophet’s mandate has given us the interpretive, moral lens through which to examine and evaluate not only our own personal decisions, but also those being made on our behalf by our national and local leaders.  In the face of any claim to rightfulness offered on behalf of a directive or policy, I find that Micah has given me the moral framework I need, asking:  Is it just?  Is it merciful?  Is it grounded in humility?

Attached you will find a statement issued jointly today by heads of a broad spectrum of Christian denominations here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The letter speaks of what we believe to be the injurious executive action restricting refugee entry and resettlement in our nation.  My own decision to sign this statement comes directly from my assessment of that executive action’s alignment with the Micah mandate, and my conclusion:  It is not just.  It is not merciful.  Humility is not here reflected.

The statement offers brief reflections on ways that we believe this policy and other similar initiatives to be inconsistent with our faith and with the ideals of this great nation.  I commend it for your prayerful consideration.



The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates

California Bishop Andrus makes statement about President’s executive orders

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 2:40pm

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

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”  Matthew 25:35

Over the last week, President Trump has issued several executive orders and memorandums that I and many others in the Episcopal Diocese of California find deeply troubling and contrary to the Episcopal Church’s clear directives to love our neighbors as ourselves and act as faithful stewards of our environment. The administration’s actions include an effort to restart construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, a project that threatens the Standing Rock Sioux’s precious water supply and the integrity of their sacred lands; directives that would allow the deportation of undocumented immigrants from sanctuary cities like San Francisco; and an initiative to block residents of predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States—a move that has led to chaos, heartbreak, and confusion at airports at home and abroad.

I am calling on the members of the Diocese of California to pray for those affected by these discriminatory and divisive policies, and I am encouraging them continue their participation in peaceful protests and campaigns to contact elected officials. As a diocese, we must actively work through our fear and anger to bring about justice and peace for all who are oppressed and to make our nation a beacon of hope for the whole world. We must continue to push back against those who would deplete our precious ecological resources in exchange for financial profit, and we must honor the contributions of immigrants who are here to seek peace and stability for their families. Please join me in praying for our nation and for a change of heart for President Trump and his administration.

The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus
Bishop of California

We are all Syrian. We are all Muslim.

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 1:47pm

[Episcopal Diocese of San Diego] The last nine days have been a disquieting and dizzying display of presidential action in Mr. Trump’s first days in office. It is difficult for us to find focus as he occupies the media space railing about the size of the inauguration crowd and making unsubstantiated claims regarding voter fraud. From a public policy perspective, there is much to worry about: news blackouts from federal departments, possible trade wars, and comments about illegal torture to name a few.

However, Friday’s executive order to halt immigration from seven Muslim countries, including the suspension of refugees from war-ravaged Syria, is an affront to our sense of fairness and equity. Indeed, the president even stated that our nation would give preferential treatment to Christians over Muslims, thereby invoking a religious standard for entry that is anathema to our national creed. Fanning the fears of 9/11 and ISIS, the president wants us to believe that we will be safer because we change who we are as a people who welcome the immigrant and the refugee. But we are the nation of the Marshall Plan, Famine Relief and Tsunami recovery. Our dark chapters of the last century include Franklin Roosevelt’s executive order 9066, which interred Japanese Americans because of their ethnicity. This is too eerily familiar. Surely we have learned from our past and discovered the better angels of our nature.

As a Christian and a bishop, I have struggled with Trump’s quick claims of his own Christian identity, which seem at odds with his sexist behavior, his dishonesty, and his ostentatious consumption and wealth. But I now know what “America First” means to him and I cannot be silent. America First means the exercise of power and selfishness of which I want no part. These actions will give fodder and strength to those who wish to do us harm. We are at our best as a nation when we give. We are strong when we have appropriate boundaries and an open heart. The truth of the Christian life is indeed part of our national story: it is in giving that we receive.

After 9/11, the French paper, La Monde, ran a headline that declared: “Nous sommes tous Americains,” “We are all Americans.” In the spirit of the Confessing Church of Dietrich Bonhoeffer that stood against Nazi Germany, this follower of Jesus Christ can only stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters from other nations and other faiths who are refugees. On this day, we are all Syrian. We are all Muslim.

President Trump’s actions are unacceptable and un-American. They do not represent who we are as a people. We must recover our senses. It is time to speak out in the name of all faiths and our national identity as a people united in our diversity. That is our gift to the world.

The Rt. Rev. James Mathes,
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of San Diego

New Hampshire Bishop Rob Hirschfeld on President Trump’s Executive Order

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 1:39pm

[Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire] Yankee folk wisdom says, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Each of the issues the recent Presidential Executive Orders seeks to fix deserves a considered, bi-partisan conversation, combined with a measure of humility from all sides. Blunt force can make matters worse.

The Executive Order tightly restricting immigration and refugee resettlement based on religious identity has done very little but intensify global tensions while worsening human suffering among those who honor and admire this nation.  What is called for is competent diplomacy, informed statesmanship, and a clear commitment to the biblically informed ideals of hospitality to the stranger and the oppressed. That these values are being so cavalierly rejected in favor of rash and fear-based edicts not only violates the dignity of those immediately affected, but also damages our own reputation. This is not what gaining respect in the community of nations looks like.

We appear to be descending quickly from the Republican vision, as held up by President Ronald Reagan, of America as ‘the shining city on the hill.’  It is worth noting that President Reagan was quoting John Winthrop, a Puritan who was himself, like so many refugees of our day, fleeing sectarian persecution and tyranny.

The Rt. Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld
Bishop of the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire

Washington Bishop Mariann Budde: Choosing love over fear

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 1:15pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Washington] The list of alarming actions and statements from President Trump’s first week in office takes our collective breath away. New York Times columnist David Brooks describes the week as being all about threat perception: building a wall against a Mexican/Central American threat; restoring torture chambers to fight the terrorist threat; erecting immigration barriers against a Muslim threat. That is precisely the kind of fear that has defined some of the most shameful chapters in our nation’s history. It legitimizes intolerance and the dehumanization of others that leads to violence. Leading from such a posture of fear endangers all of us, and it is antithetical to Jesus’ gospel of love.

All Christian Americans should be offended that President Trump has decided that some of the most vulnerable refugees on the planet are not welcome here because they are of the Muslim faith, but that Christians from the seven troubled countries that the President has named are to receive favored treatment. Such favoritism is an insult to Christians. I stand proudly with other Christians and interfaith leaders to protest this order, express solidarity with one another, and together call our nation to the highest of our common spiritual and civic values.

Scripture could not be clearer: we are called to welcome the stranger. Jesus himself was a refugee when his parents fled their homeland to save his life from a brutal ruler. He taught without compromise that what we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to him. The hero of of Jesus’ most famous parable on the love of neighbor belonged to a despised people.

At times such as these we often ask ourselves what we as individuals can do to make a difference. In this case, the answer is: much. A tremendous nationwide mobilization to protest the president’s action is now underway, and the Episcopal Church is playing its part. I commend to you a new advocacy initiative from the Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN), which is part of our church’s Office of Government Relations. If you join me in the 2×4 Fight for Refugees Campaign, you will commit to calling your national, state, and local elected officials four times during the next two months on behalf of refugees. You can learn more about the campaign and find a helpful script online. And, if you are of a mind, you can join the network to receive updates and alerts.

The opposite of love is not hate, but fear. Jesus’ gospel is of only love, and Scripture assures us that perfect love casts out fear. We need not respond in hate to anyone, for Jesus meets us in the places where we are afraid with his love, courage and strength. May we draw upon that love now and stand firm in the days ahead.


House of Deputies President Gay Jennings: Stand with Refugees

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 12:49pm

[House of Deputies] The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the Episcopal Church House of Deputies, wrote to deputies Jan. 31 about how and why the Church ought to continue its support of refugees.

Dear Deputies:

Like many of you, in the last week I have watched the news from Washington D.C. unfold with increasing disbelief and growing fear for the most vulnerable among us. The new administration’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a suitable replacement, silence journalists and advocates, and distort our national conversation with lies disturb me as an American and a person of faith. I intend to resist.

I am particularly horrified by the ban on refugees signed by President Trump on Friday evening. It is quite simply an act of malice, particularly toward our Muslim sisters and brothers, and Christians must oppose it loudly and with strength. Many of you are doing so, and I am grateful for the statements and sermons I have seen and the photos in my Facebook feed of Episcopalians gathered at airports and other protest sites to express our church’s commitment to welcoming the stranger. You can find that commitment articulated in actions of General Convention dating back to 1979 (the earliest date at which the archive is digitized) on the website of the Archives of the Episcopal Church.

Right now, more than 65 million people are currently displaced by war, conflict and persecution–the largest number in recorded history. We have an urgent moral responsibility to receive refugees and asylum seekers who are in dire need.

As Christians, we should be particularly worried that the refugee ban targets people from seven majority-Muslim countries. God’s command to welcome the stranger and care for aliens is a mandate to welcome all people, regardless of their faiths. Just as God in the Hebrew Bible commanded the Jews to welcome non-Jewish strangers, we are commanded to welcome people who practice different faiths. A refugee ban that specifically targets Muslim people, or that gives Christians special priority for resettlement above other persecuted people simply because they are Christian, is fundamentally un-Christian.

Such a ban is also unnecessary. The United States has the most rigorous refugee screening process in the world, involving the Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and National Counter Terrorism Center. The process includes biometric checks, medical screenings, forensic testing of documents, DNA testing for family reunification cases, and in-person interviews with highly trained homeland security officials.

As Episcopalians, we can take particular pride in our long history of refugee resettlement. Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) is one of nine refugee resettlement agencies in the United States, and since 1988, working under both Republican and Democratic administrations, we have welcomed more than 50,000 refugees in partnership with dioceses, congregations, community organizations and volunteers across the country. In 2015 alone, EMM helped resettle nearly 5,000 refugees in 30 communities by working with local partner agencies in 26 dioceses and 22 states.

Over the weekend, I spoke with the Rev. Canon Mark Stevenson, EMM’s director, and assured him of my prayers and assistance as he and his team navigate these extraordinarily difficult times. Please remember the people of Episcopal Migration Ministries and the refugees they assist in your own prayers, and take this opportunity to learn more about this vital ministry of the Episcopal Church.

Today Rebecca Blachly, the director of the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations, and her team launched a new advocacy initiative called the 2×4 Fight for Refugees Campaign. I am going to participate, and I hope you will join me. When we join the campaign, we will commit to calling our national, state, and local elected officials four times during the next two months on behalf of refugees. You can learn more about the campaign and find advocacy materials online, and sign up for more advocacy alerts on this and other issues by joining the Episcopal Public Policy Network.

I suspect that in the coming months, we will be in touch with one another often as we learn new ways to advocate for the policies of General Convention and the witness of the Episcopal Church in the world. I look forward to working together and to being with all of you at General Convention in 2018.


Gay Clark Jennings


Public Policy Network announces refugee advocacy campaign

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 12:36pm

[Episcopal Public Policy Network] The Episcopal Public Policy Network is launching a nationwide advocacy campaign in support of refugees. Over the next two months, we’re challenging Episcopalians to call their national, state, and local elected officials at least four times. Now, more than ever, people of faith must make their voices heard. We have created a 2×4 Fight for Refugees Campaign page with numbers to dial and a sample script on our website.


On January 27, President Trump signed an executive order that halted the refugee resettlement program for 120 days, significantly lowered the number of refugees admitted to the U.S., and barred Syrian refugees from being resettled to the U.S. We recognize the need for our nation to be secure, but we believe that the thorough and often multi-year vetting process eliminates those with violent extremist ideologies and those who seek to harm our country. We believe our current policies balance humanitarian needs with security priorities. This pause in the program and the orders to bar entry to certain individuals will have devastating effects on the lives of refugees waiting for protection through resettlement.

The Episcopal Church, through Episcopal Migration Ministries, is one of the nine refugee resettlement agencies in the U.S. refugee resettlement is a life-saving ministry. Episcopalians around the country engage in the work of welcome every day. We have seen that refugees, once welcomed to our communities, become integral parts of our neighborhoods as friends, business owners, students, doctors, and more.

We urge you to join the 2×4 Fight for Refugees Campaign to let your elected officials know that you welcome refugees.

Voluntarios episcopales en Misión ofrece oportunidades para que adultos sirvan en toda la Comunión Anglicana

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 11:25am

[31 de enero del 2017] A medida que la Iglesia Episcopal relanza a los Voluntarios Episcopales en Misión, se invita a los candidatos adultos interesados a considerar las oportunidades de compartir y aprender en lugares a lo largo de la Comunión Anglicana.

“Estamos relanzando este programa misionero existente desde hace mucho tiempo para concienciar a las personas de las oportunidades que tienen los episcopales de todas las edades de vivir, trabajar y orar junto a otros anglicanos /episcopales de todo el mundo”, explicó el reverendo David Copley, director de Alianzas Globales de la Iglesia Episcopal y Personal de la Misión. “Esta es una oportunidad para vivir su fe y para escuchar y aprender de otros, que hacen lo mismo”.

Mediante los Voluntarios Episcopales en Misión, los episcopales adultos  laicos u ordenados (de 30 y más años) dedican de seis a 12 meses de voluntariado en un área de la Comunión Anglicana. Aunque el ministerio de la presencia es de primera importancia, en el pasado los voluntarios han contribuido como maestros, contadores, médicos, administradores, teólogos, agricultores, capellanes y en muchas otras áreas del ministerio.

Los Voluntarios Episcopales en Misión no es diferente del Cuerpo de Servicio de los Jóvenes Adultos. “El Cuerpo de Servicio de los Jóvenes Adultos o YASC, como lo llamamos, es muy exitoso y la participación y el interés en el programa continúan creciendo”, continuó Copley. “A menudo se nos pregunta si hay oportunidades similares para los episcopales mayores de 30 años de servir de la misma manera. Esperamos que el relanzamiento del programa de Voluntarios Episcopales en Misión permita, a quienes se sientan llamados a servir a nivel internacional, cumplir con ese llamado”.

“El servicio misionero puede ser una gran manera de fortalecer las relaciones de compañerismo entre las diócesis y las congregaciones”, dijo Elizabeth Boe, Oficial del Personal para el Compromiso en la Misión Global. “Estamos encantados de ofrecer esta oportunidad de participar en el servicio misionero global para ayudar a apoyar las iniciativas misioneras locales de las diócesis a través de la Iglesia Episcopal”.

Aquí se encuentran información, requisitos y aplicaciones.

Para obtener más información, póngase en contacto con Boe en o (212) 716-6381.

La Comunión Anglicana es la reunión de iglesias anglicanas y episcopales de todo el mundo. Hoy, la Comunión Anglicana cuenta con más de 85 millones de fieles en 44 iglesias regionales y nacionales miembros en más de 165 países. La Iglesia Episcopal es miembro de la Comunión Anglicana.

Episcopal Volunteers in Mission offers opportunities for adults to serve throughout Anglican Communion

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 11:24am

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] As the Episcopal Church relaunches Episcopal Volunteers in Mission, interested adult candidates are invited to consider opportunities for sharing and learning in locales throughout the Anglican Communion.

“We are relaunching this long-standing missionary program to make people aware of the opportunities for Episcopalians of all ages to live, work, and pray alongside fellow Anglicans/Episcopalians around the world,” explained the Rev. David Copley, Episcopal Church Director of Global Partnerships and Mission Personnel. “This is an opportunity to live out your faith and to listen and learn from others as they do the same.”

Through Episcopal Volunteers in Mission, lay or ordained adult Episcopalians (ages 30+) devote six to 12 months volunteering in an area of the Anglican Communion. While the ministry of presence is of prime importance, volunteers have previously contributed as teachers, accountants, doctors, administrators, theologians, agriculturalists, chaplains, and many other areas of ministry.

Episcopal Volunteers in Mission is not unlike the Young Adult Service Corps. “The Young Adult Service Corps, or YASC as we call it, is very successful and participation and interest in the program continues to grow,” Copley continued. “We are often asked if there are similar opportunities for Episcopalians over the age of 30 to serve in a like way. We hope that relaunching the Episcopal Volunteers in Mission program will enable those who feel called to serve internationally to live out that call.”

“Missionary service can be a great way to strengthen Companion Relationships between dioceses and congregations,” said Elizabeth Boe, Staff Officer for Global Mission Engagement. “We are delighted to offer this opportunity to engage in global mission service to help support local mission initiatives of dioceses across the Episcopal Church.”

Information, requirements and applications are located here.

For more information, contact Boe at or (212) 716-6381.

The Anglican Communion is the gathering of Anglican and Episcopal churches from around the world. Today, the Anglican Communion comprises more than 85 million members in 44 regional and national member churches in more than 165 countries. The Episcopal church is a member of the Anglican Communion.


In the bleak midwinter, Standing Rock Episcopal ministry is changing

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 7:48am

An Episcopal Church flag has flown at Oceti Sakowin Camp for months. Photo: Oceti Sakowin via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians in and around the Standing Rock Sioux Nation Reservation are seeing their ministry change as the camps formed by water protectors along the Missouri River protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline are slowly closing.

The temperature in the area may have climbed to 40 degrees on Jan. 30 but it is still the bleak midwinter in North Dakota and March can be the state’s snowiest month, according to the National Weather Service. Tribal officials have said that the harshness of the winter is making the camps unsafe and they are worried about the protectors’ safety when spring melts the snow and the Missouri runs high.

The effort to close the camps began before Jan. 24 when Donald Trump called for the rapid approval of the pipeline’s final phase. The Cannon Ball tribal district Jan. 19 asked the protectors to leave and the entire tribal council supported that move the next day. However, tribal leaders also point to the president’s efforts in urging their supporters to redirect their advocacy.

“We understand and acknowledge the power of the camps in bringing us this far in our fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline,” the tribe said Jan. 26 on its Facebook page. “We maintain, however, that given current conditions, both physical and political, the focus must shift from maintaining camps to being at the political and legal forefront. The new regime will not respond to the camps with moderate actions; the tribe is not willing to place its citizens nor its battle against DAPL in jeopardy where so much that has been accomplished can be lost.”

The tribe’s statement acknowledged that many people want to return to the camps because of Trump’s Jan. 24 actions. “We stress, however, that further actions at the camp and at the bridge and drill pad are not where we will find success in this struggle moving forward,” the tribe said. “We need to be able to focus our energy on the intense government-to-government political situation and not the camps. Please do not return, but instead put your heart and effort into supporting the battle for clean water from your various homes around the globe.”

The bridge referred to in the statement is the closed Backwater Bridge on North Dakota Highway 1806. It has been both a focus of protests and a symbol of the disruption caused by the monthlong encampments. The remaining work on the pipeline would push the pipeline under Lake Oahe on the Missouri River just north of the Standing Rock Reservation. The pipeline company has set up a drill pad very near the proposed crossing point, which is upstream from the tribe’s reservation boundaries, and the tribe has water, treaty fishing and hunting rights in the lake.

The 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline is poised to carry up to 570,000 gallons of oil a day from the Bakken oil field in northwestern North Dakota – through South Dakota and Iowa – to Illinois where it will be shipped to refineries. The pipeline was to pass within one-half mile of the Standing Rock Reservation and Sioux tribal leaders repeatedly expressed concerns over the potential for an oil spill that would damage the reservation’s water supply, and the threat the pipeline posed to sacred sites and treaty rights. The company developing the pipeline, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, says it will be safe.

The closure of the Backwater Bridge on North Dakota Highway 1806 had become a point of contention between water protectors and local residents. Photo: Oceti Sakowin via Facebook

“The tribe is not expelling people,” the Rev. John Floberg, priest-in-charge of Episcopal Church congregations on the North Dakota side of Standing Rock, agreed.

However, he said in a Jan. 30 interview with Episcopal News Service, the tribe is telling people that the winter has been so harsh that remaining in the camps can be fatal in a land where wind chills have reached as low as -60 degrees. The tribe also wants debris in the camp removed. People took good care of the camps, Floberg said, but a Dec. 5 blizzard inundated the area, collapsing and burying tents and other flimsy structures – debris that the tribe wants to ensure that spring floods do not sweep into the river.

Many residents say they are tired of the Backwater Bridge being closed because it is their primary route to work and hospital services. The Cannon Ball community gym, used for sports, meetings and funerals, is in need of cleaning and repairs due to serving as an emergency shelter for protesters, some of whom continue to stay there, according to Floberg and the Bismarck Tribune newspaper.

There has been some division in the loosely led Oceti Sakowin camp about whether to stay or leave, Floberg said, adding that from what he can tell the majority agrees with the tribe and is working to shut down the camp. Some campers have moved off the bottomland near the river to the top of so-called Facebook Hill. Some water protectors in the Rosebud Camp asked Floberg for his help in shutting down their camp but the Sacred Stone Camp, which is on privately owned land, is still welcoming people, he said.

Oceti Sakowin organizers have said in an undated posting on the camp’s website that “the sacred fire of the Seven Councils has been put to sleep” but that the fire “can be lit in our hearts internally and spirituality forever.” The webpage asks occupants “to evacuate as soon as possible for safety reasons.”

While the tribe had originally set a Jan. 30 deadline, it now seems that protectors have until Feb. 19. Floberg said he understands that as of that day tribal leaders will no longer use its “political weight” to stand as a buffer between a camp on the north side of the Cannonball River and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, other federal officials and the state of North Dakota.

Floberg and local Episcopalians have been practicing a ministry of presence in the camps and in their local churches since the summer. They have funneled some donations to the Sioux Tribe to help cover the costs of dumpsters and portable toilets. An Episcopal area at Oceti Sakowin has been a gathering point for those efforts. Episcopal chaplains were there when the Dec. 5 storm hit.

Oceti Sakowin camp spreads out along land near where the Missouri River meets the Cannonball River. North Dakota Highway 1806 runs across the top of the photo. Photo: Oceti Sakowin via Facebook

These days, the ministry is changing. Floberg and some members of St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, the closest town to the camps, recently discovered a military-style tent in Oceti Sakowin filled with what he estimated is 100,000 pounds of food. It is mostly flour, beans and macaroni, which Floberg said can be salvaged. However, they also found canned vegetables that most likely have frozen and may not be usable. The food cache grew over the months as people coming to the camps brought food donations, Floberg said. The salvageable food is being donated to people living on Standing Rock and on the nearby Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

“Our glamorous work of being protestors is now about moving flour bags,” Floberg said with a chuckle.

Episcopalians could see what sort of work was going to be needed at the camps and positioned themselves to do that work, he said. That planning included using some of the money donated to the Diocese of North Dakota to buy a skip steer loader, a small, engine-powered machine with lift arms that a person can drive and use to move heavy loads and perform other tasks. Donations also covered the cost of a large covered trailer for hauling the food away and storing it.

Local Episcopalians are grateful for those donations and “we’re still making use of them in the best ways that we know at any given a time and will continue to do that,” Floberg said.

The changes in their ministry has been guided by listening to what the tribal council is saying and what Chairman Dave Archambault II is saying, and then trying to figure out how Episcopalians can assist. “It’s when the tribe is engaged outside of itself that we step in to stand with Standing Rock and make clear our position of support for what they have decided to do,” he said.

“When it comes to internal decisions being made within the tribe, the Church doesn’t weigh in on whether the tribe should do this or that,” Floberg said. Episcopalians who are tribal members will weigh in on those issues and “we expect their good conscience to guide them.”

A line of water protectors face law enforcement officials at the drill pad set up for the final phase of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux have asked that such protests end and water protectors leave. Photo: Oceti Sakowin via Facebook

Floberg and others are staunch in their desire to support the tribe’s decisions. However, Floberg said, it is difficult to serve all of the community when some members are frustrated with the camps, others are frustrated with tribal decisions and others are frustrated by those who are frustrated.

For instance, can people in the camps still come to St. James in Cannon Ball to fill their water cans if the church supports the tribe’s decision that the camps should close?

“Is that supporting the camp to remain open when the tribe has asked it to close or is it simply responding to basic human need? After all, we’ve heard it: Water is life,” Floberg explained.

“Right now, until Feb. 19, our position can be rather clear. If water is needed and we have that resource available, we’ll make it available to those who need water. … We believe we can be faithful to standing with Standing Rock while at the same time wanting the tribe to understand the Church always will respond to humanitarian need.”

When that Feb. 19 deadline comes around Floberg and others “will have to listen again” to what tribal leaders are saying to determine how to support that tribe from that point.

The Episcopal Church has been standing with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s position on the pipeline since summer 2016. Local Episcopalians have also provided a ministry of presence in and around Cannon Ball, North Dakota, which has been the focal point for the groups of water protectors that gathered near the proposed crossing. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry visited the area in September and many Episcopalians, both lay and ordained, answered Floberg’s call to stand in witness with the water protectors in November.

Previous ENS coverage of the Episcopal Church’s work with Standing Rock is here.

Floberg said he thinks the pipeline protests galvanized people for other actions. Some marched in the various Women’s Marches on Jan. 21 and he told Episcopal News Service Jan. 30 that he knows some water protectors who were among the people who went to the San Francisco airport Jan. 28 and 29 to protest Trump’s refugee ban.

“It awoke our Church to getting engaged and so a lot of our members have,” he said.

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

Targeting refugees is a ‘fool’s errand,’ says NCC general secretary

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 3:57am

[National Council of Churches press release]

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord… when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”  

-(Matthew 25:37-40 excerpts, NRSV)

As the world is facing the greatest refugee crisis in history, with over 65 million people displaced from their homes because of conflict, President Donald Trump has chosen to take draconian measures to close our borders not only to refugees, but also legal residents of the United States through an ill-conceived executive order.  We stand firmly against these actions.

The executive order takes aim against seven Muslim-majority countries:  Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.  The many thousands of victims of this action are primarily Muslims, thereby making it extremely difficult for Mr. Trump to credibly argue his intent is not to target the Muslim community.

The president has stated his preference to come to the aid of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. The National Council of Churches, too, is deeply concerned about the plight of Christians and other religious minorities in war-torn regions.  Our Christian sisters and brothers have been deeply impacted by anti-Christian persecution in Syria, Iraq, and other countries.

Nevertheless, placing a religious test upon those fleeing persecution is un-American.

We commend the leadership Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have given in this time of national crisis.  We agree with the senators that “This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country.”

“Terrorism is not the product of any one religion,” said NCC General Secretary Jim Winkler, “and it has been shown that targeting refugees from these and other countries is a fool’s errand.  And to enact what ultimately amounts to a ‘Muslim ban’ is to encourage terrorism. Further, any hint of favoritism shown toward Middle East Christians plays to Muslim fears that the Crusades are not over.”

We stand with and support those US officials and countless Americans who object to this executive action and are seeking ways to bring about justice.  We lift our voice to join the demonstrations taking place in America’s cities and airports. Without question, an outpouring of love and concern for Muslims has become an integral part of our witness across the country, something that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

Refugees have a right to protection, affirms joint statement from WCC, ACT, LWF

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 3:53am

Iraqi family from Baghdad at the Serbian-Hungarian border. ©Fekete Dániel/HIA-Hungary/ACT Alliance

[World Council of Churches press release] Expressing concern regarding recently announced US measures related to refugee admissions and entry into the US by seven Muslim-majority countries, the World Council of Churches (WCC), ACT Alliance (ACT), and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) affirmed that faith calls all Christians to love and welcome the stranger, the refugee, the internally displaced person – “the other.”

In a statement released on 31 January, WCC, ACT and LWF shared and affirmed the concerns expressed by many Christian leaders in the US and around the world about the US Presidential Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The order suspends the entire US refugee admissions program for 120 days, indefinitely bans Syrian refugees, and suspends entry to the US by all nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“These measures have been introduced in the name of protecting the nation from terrorists entering the US. However, we support the view that in practice this order serves to further harm those who are the very victims of terrorism, genocide, religious and gender-based persecution, and civil war,” reads the statement.

Participants in a WCC delegation to Iraq on 20-25 January met many victims of terrorism in Iraq, including Christians, Yazidis, Muslims and members of many other religious communities, all of whom must now feel doubly victimized by these measures, continues the statement.

“We affirm and insist that, as prescribed under international humanitarian and human rights law, all those in confirmed need of refuge and international protection have a right to receive it, regardless of their religious or ethnic identity.”

To give preference to Christians in this context does not necessarily protect the Christian community in Iraq, but may risk further jeopardizing the inter-communal reconciliation on which their future in their ancient homeland depends, continues the statement. “As one of the most significant destination countries for refugee resettlement worldwide, we urge the United States to uphold its long tradition of welcoming refugees and offering them international protection, in accordance with its commitments and obligations under international law.”

The world is currently experiencing the largest forced displacement crisis since World War II, and 86% of the world’s refugees are being hosted in developing countries. “For the USA to more than halve its annual intake of refugees would not only severely affect people in urgent need of refuge, but also encourage other developed countries to participate in a further erosion of international protection for refugees.”

Canada: Christian leaders express solidarity with Muslims following Quebec attack

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 3:50am

[Anglican Journal] Anglicans and other Christian leaders have expressed their “sympathy and solidarity” with Muslims following a deadly attack Sunday night on a mosque in the Ste-Foy neighborhood of Quebec City.

The attack, which left six people dead and 19 others wounded, occurred just before 8 p.m., Jan.29, when a gunman opened fire while evening prayers were underway at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec.  Alexandre Bissonnette is being detained as a suspect in the case.

In a January 30 statement, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said his heart “goes out to all Muslims across Canada as they struggle with this terrible attack,” and that the church holds in its prayers the victims of the attack, their families and their imams. Hiltz also led national office staff in a 15-minute candlelight service at the Chapel of the Holy Apostles in Toronto to pray for the victims, their families, the Muslim community, the people of Quebec and Canada.

Full article.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle, pledges support for immigrants and refugees

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 3:47am

[Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle press release] Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral decries the announcement of efforts by the new presidential administration to extend a “border wall,” ramp up enforcement, curtail applications for asylum and halt the granting of refugee status. These actions will lead to greater separation of families and loved ones, divide communities, sow hate and place people fleeing rampant violence and persecution at risk of immense suffering and death. Such measures, coupled with the regime of raids, detention and deportation, further the dehumanization, violence and racism that migrating populations face. Immigrants and refugees seeking to rebuild their lives, including many families with children, pose no “threat” to our country. As a faith community, we pledge to welcome them as our neighbors and as full, contributing members of our community life.

Hard-working, faith-filled and family-oriented immigrants and refugees have been a significant part of the economic backbone of our country. Police forces around the United States have found that building relationships with local immigrant communities based on respect and tolerance are the best recipe for the security of the whole community. Community protection or “sanctuary ordinances” are means by which immigrants feel safe going to local authorities or city officials if a crime has been committed. We applaud Seattle and King County for their sanctuary ordinances, which enhance democracy and strengthen our social fabric, remove fear and alleviate suffering.

We are particularly appalled by the actions of the Trump Administration that have the effect of targeting of Muslims based on religion, although couched in bans for people of particular nationalities. We denounce the scapegoating of immigrants and refugees, Muslims and other religions, people of color and other communities placed at risk. We will stand together with these communities, lift up their stories, provide hospitality and call for their basic human rights, all actions which are not only legal, but moral obligations within our faith traditions.

Our acting as neighbor with and offering solidarity to Muslims and all religious groups are an exercise of religious faith. While sanctuary ordinances and practices are consistent with the law as provided by the Constitution, we also uphold and affirm a higher, spiritual law, which says that the civil rights and human dignity of all God’s people must be honored. We pledge circles of protection that say you are welcome. Our house of worship requires no documents and is open to all.

Adapted from a statement by the Church Council of Greater Seattle

Connecticut bishops respond to President Trump’s Executive Order regarding refugees

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 3:45am

[Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut]

Dear Companions in Christ in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut:

Last Friday, January 27, 2017 President Donald Trump signed the Executive Order entitled: “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”. This far-reaching and sweeping Executive Order includes, but is not limited to: suspending our country’s refugee resettlement program for 120 days, suspending the resettlement of Syrian refugees for an indefinite time, reducing the number of refugees to be admitted to the United States in this fiscal year from 110,000 to 50,000, and prohibiting entry into the United States of citizens from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for a period of 90 days. This Executive Order contravenes our American values of welcoming immigrants and refugees to our shores and makes a mockery of the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free….” As Christians, welcoming the alien and stranger is a fundamental feature of our faith. Hebrew Scripture over and over underscores the importance of treating the alien with hospitality and justice. “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21) “Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice.” (Deuteronomy 27:19) We recall that our Lord and Savior was a refugee, fleeing with his mother and father into Egypt to escape persecution and death. (Matthew 2:13-15) And Jesus reminds us that in welcoming the stranger, we are welcoming Christ himself into our midst. (Matthew: 25:31-46) For over 35 years the Episcopal Church in Connecticut has worked to welcome refugees to Connecticut, first through Episcopal Social Services and currently in cooperation with Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services – IRIS Our last three diocesan Annual Conventions articulated our support of IRIS and refugees. In 2014 we entered into a covenanted relationship with IRIS promising to work together closely in settling refugees. Read resolution here. In response to the growing refugee crisis in Syria, we committed ourselves in 2015 to co-sponsoring the resettlement of a minimum 30 refugee families in 2016. Read resolution here. And at our last Annual Convention in November we reiterated our support for IRIS and asked parishes and individuals to give to IRIS and consider sponsoring a refugee family. Read resolution here. We cannot be idle as this Executive Order threatens to undermine the values that we stand for as Americans, as Christians, as Episcopalians in Connecticut. We, your bishops, urge the parishes and people of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut to take action in one or more of the following ways: Pray: Pray for all who are adversely affected by this Executive Order and whose lives are threatened by these actions. Pray also that our President and his administration will have an amendment of heart and reconsider this order. We particularly invite you to add the prayer For Social Justice found on page 823 of the Book of Common Prayer to your personal prayers and Sunday Prayers of the People: Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen   Speak Out: Use your voice to share your concerns about the Executive Order. Write an editorial to your local paper; use social media to connect; participate in vigils, gatherings, and witness opportunities; and sign onto petitions. Along with other faith leaders, we your bishops have recently signed the Interfaith Immigration Coalition Letter to President Trump. See letter here. Advocate: Write, call, email, and text your local Congressperson and Senators Blumenthal and Murphy sharing your position on the Executive Order and encouraging their efforts to work against the Executive Order. Attend: Participate in the annual ECCT Companions in Mission Ministry Network conference: “Refugees and Immigrants: Across the Street and Around the World” to be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church in West Hartford on March 4, 2017. Registration can be found at here. Collaborate: Work with your parish, other parishes in your area, ecumenical and interfaith partners, and community organizations to welcome refugees into your neighborhood through IRIS and other refugee resettlement agencies. Give: Donate generously to IRIS and other refugee resettlement agencies such as Episcopal Migration Ministries so that they can continue their work resettling immigrants and refugees. Additional ideas for how you can help are found on the Episcopal Migration Ministries website here. Thank you for your attention to the plight of refugees and immigrants in the world, and especially in the United States at this time. May we see Christ in those who are different from us, welcoming strangers and aliens with open arms of hospitality, love, and generosity. God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation compels us to continue to settle immigrants and refugees in our country. Faithfully, The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas                                 The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens Bishop Diocesan                                                     Bishop Suffragan

Diócesis de Texas publica ‘Juntos en Misión’ un nuevo recurso para ayudar a los ministerios de recién llegados

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 3:41am

[Diócesis Episcopal de Texas] La Diócesis Episcopal de Texas publica Juntos en Misión: Invitación, Bienvenida y Conexión, una serie de capacitación digital para congregaciones de habla hispana. Juntos en Misión fue desarrollado para ayudar a los feligreses a invitar, a dar la bienvenida y conectar a los visitantes y los nuevos miembros, así como fortalecer sus ministerios existentes. La serie de video de cinco partes, fue rediseñada para la comunidad hispana del popular programa Invite Welcome Connect, y estará disponible para su descarga con listas de verificación y de recursos adjuntas sin cargo alguno.

Juntos en Misión está destinado a apoyar a los ministerios de recién llegados en el desarrollo de la congregación, ayudar a construir relaciones con los feligreses nuevos y existentes y animar a los miembros a ser proactivos acerca de incluir a otros en sus comunidades, en el ministerio de la iglesia y la vida de fe.

“Agradezco a nuestra Comisión del Ministerio Hispano por el trabajo que hicieron en la preparación de los guiones para este valioso entrenamiento”, dijo el Rvdmo. Andy Doyle. “Sabemos la importancia de dar la bienvenida a gente nueva de una manera que los invita a regresar como parte de nuestra comunidad de fe, y esta formación es el primer paso en ese esfuerzo”.

El costo de la serie de videos fue financiado por una subvención del Ministerio Estratégico de la Diócesis y el Obispo dijo que esperaba que sea útil para las congregaciones de habla hispana en la Diócesis, los Estados Unidos y del mundo. “La serie estará en línea para que cualquier persona la pueda acceder”, agregó.

En 2015, la Diócesis Episcopal de Texas realizó un estudio de mercadeo sobre el ministerio a la comunidad de habla hispana recolectando datos de numerosos grupos focales. Los comentarios de hispanos no-miembros revelaron que había poco o ningún conocimiento de la Iglesia Episcopal, aunque el servicio de culto y ethos de la Iglesia Episcopal les atrajo, una vez informado. Los miembros activos de la iglesia revelaron la necesidad de recursos para ayudarlos a llegar a sus comunidades.

La Comisión desarrolló el concepto de Dios no tiene fronteras para reflejar los esfuerzos diocesanos y para llegar más allá de la comunidad. La diócesis también creó una docena de sitios de internet para las congregaciones latinas locales, encontrados en, rediseñó tarjetas informativas sobre la Iglesia Episcopal en español y ayudó a capacitar a los feligreses locales en las redes sociales durante el último año. Juntos en Misión es el último recurso a ser completado. También se planea un nuevo boletín digital que ayudará a las congregaciones latinas a mantenerse conectadas entre sí y compartir información.

Para más información sobre Juntos en Misión: Invitación, Bienvenida y Conexión, comuníquese con–Paulette Martin, o llame al 713.520.6444 o visite

Diocese of Texas releases Spanish resource to help newcomer ministries

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 3:38am

[Diocese of Texas] The Episcopal Diocese of Texas has announced the release of Juntos en Mision: Invitación, Bienvenida y Conexión, a digital training series for Spanish-speaking congregations. Juntos en Mision was developed to help parishioners learn to invite, welcome and connect visitors and new members as well as strengthen their existing ministries. The five-part video series, redeveloped by the diocese’s Commission on Hispanic Ministry from the popular Invite Welcome Connect program, is available for online viewing or download with accompanying checklists and resource lists at no charge.

Juntos en Mision is meant to support newcomer ministries in congregational development, help to build relationships with new and existing parishioners and encourage members to be proactive about including others into their communities in the church’s ministry and life of faith. No training is necessary to facilitate the program.

“I am grateful to our Commission on Hispanic Ministry for the work they did in preparing the scripts for this valuable training,” said Texas Bishop Andy Doyle. “We know how important it is to welcome new people in a manner that invites them to return as part of our community of faith, and this training provides the first step in that effort.”

Cost of producing the video series was underwritten by the diocese and is available to any Spanish-speaking congregation in the U.S. or abroad. “The series will be online so anyone for whom it might be valuable will be able to access it,” Doyle said.

In 2015, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas did a marketing study on ministry to the Spanish-speaking community, gathering data from numerous focus groups. Feedback from Hispanic non-members revealed there was little or no knowledge of the Episcopal Church, although the worship service and ethos of the Episcopal Church appealed to them, once informed. Active church members revealed a need for resources to help them reach into their communities.

The Commission developed the line: “God’s love has no boundaries” (Dios no tiene fronteras) as a unified statement to reflect the diocesan efforts to help Spanish-speaking congregations reach their broader communities. The Diocese also built a dozen mobile-friendly websites for Latino congregations, anchored by, developed informational cards about the Episcopal Church in Spanish and helped to train local parishioners in social media over the last year. Juntos en Mision is the latest resource to be completed. A new digital newsletter to help the Latino congregations connected and share information will launch this spring.

For more information on Juntos en Mision: Invitación, Bienvenida y Conexión please contact ­­­Paulette Martin, or call 713-520-6444 or visit

Bishop Franklin calls Western New York Episcopalians to action

Mon, 01/30/2017 - 2:58pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Western New York] Bishop R. William Franklin of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York has called for Episcopalians in Western New York to join in opposition to the executive order issued by President Trump on Friday limiting the ability of immigrants and refugees to travel to the United States.

We are all immigrants:

A statement on President Trump’s executive order

Our Diocesan Lenten Program in the Diocese of Western New York this year is called “A Space for Grace”. The program will use Scripture and pieces of modern writing as launching pads for us to talk about our own stories and how those stories are informing our lives in the world today.

I have been thinking and praying all weekend about how to respond to President Trump’s executive order regarding travelers, immigrants and refugees and it seemed to me that using my own story was a place to start.

I am the husband and father-in-law of immigrants. My wife, Carmela, and her family came to the United States from Italy. I am blessed every day by the presence of Carmela and I literally cannot imagine my life without her. Carmela is a scholar and a professor and she has impacted the lives of her students and the institutions that she has served. The ripples of influence of the different perspective as well as the love of America that Carmela has brought cannot be measured. That influence is repeated by the life and work of every immigrant to our country. I see the same impact from the presence of my son-in-law, Dr. Rey Ramirez, whose father is from a family of Mexican immigrants. In my own family, I see the great benefits to this country of the presence of immigrants.

I grew up in the segregated South. I have seen the horrible impact of laws and practices based on fear and discrimination. It is not only those who are discriminated against who suffer. The whole society is warped and lives of everyone in the society are limited and maimed when we act out of fear, especially when we act out of fear of those who are different from us. The ripples of the negative effects of laws and practices that separate us from each other are as far reaching as the ripples of positive effects from immigrants in our society.

I am an historian. I have spent my life studying the past. I speak with knowledge and authority when I say that there is no time in the history of this country or any other, when excluding people based on race or religion or clan has been of benefit to the society that is excluding others. From the ancient Israelites through Europe in the Middle Ages to the multiple times in the history of the United States when we have excluded people based on race or religion or ethnic origin, it has always been detrimental. It comes back to the fact that acting out of fear is always the wrong choice. History teaches us this over and over and over again.

I am a proud citizen of Buffalo. Buffalo is a city formed by immigrants. From the Irish, Germans, Italian and Polish of the late 19th and early 20th century to the people from Syria, Burma, various nations of Africa, China, India and Japan today, immigrants have added to the economy and community and culture of Buffalo. The immigrants have made us what we are. It is hard to remember sometimes, but often immigrants have not been initially welcomed. The Irish were not welcomed, the Polish were not welcomed, the Germans were seen as enemy aliens and the Italian immigrants were accused of bringing a foreign religion and way of life. Today, we take great pride in being a city of immigrants and have festivals and restaurants and celebrations of the gifts they have brought. The same cycle is repeating with our newer immigrants. I am certain that in the, hopefully near, future, the Syrian and Burmese and Indian festivals will be every bit as much of the culture of Buffalo as the Italian festival, St. Patrick’s Day and Dyngus Day.

I am the Bishop of deacons and congregations involved in refugee resettlement. I have learned the difference between refugees and immigrants. There are no people who come to this country who are more thoroughly vetted then refugees. Refugees are fleeing the very people that we name as our enemies. In the last 40 years the number of American citizens killed by refugees in the entire United States can be counted on the fingers of one had. We are in no danger from the people who seek refugee from war and persecution in our country. This is what American was founded for – to be a place of refuge for all. That is what makes us a light to the world. Turning away refugees who have already been screened are have spent years proving themselves to a variety of government agencies is a betrayal of the founding principles of the United States of America. The draconian limits to the number of refugees in President Trump’s executive order is a betrayal of the spirit of America and the vision of our founders.

Most importantly, I am a follower of the God of Jesus Christ. It is not possible to read the Old Testament without hearing over and over and over again the call of God to his people to care for those in need, and particular to immigrants and foreigners. To give just one of hundreds of examples, as the people of Israel were preparing to enter the land that God had promised to them, God gave them instructions for the setting up of the society in the land that they were about to enter. God said this, “So circumcise your hearts and stop being so stubborn, because the Lord your God is the God of all gods and Lord of all lords, the great, mighty and awesome God who doesn’t play favorites and doesn’t take bribes. He enacts justice for orphans and widows, and he loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing. This means that you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:16-19 CEB, emphasis added). We are all immigrants, we, as the American people, are all immigrants every bit as much as the people of Israel were and God’s command does not change. As Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ, we must love immigrants. As Episcopalians we promise over and over again to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being. This is one small part of that vow.

I call on the Diocese of Western New York to join with me in standing against President Trump’s executive order, both as it applies to limiting immigrants from seven nations and as it applies to stopping all refugees for 120 days and limiting the total number of refugees.

Contact your elected officials. The White House is not taking phone calls, but you can send letters directly to the President at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington DC, 20500. Call your congressional representatives and tell them that you oppose this action and ask them to do anything in their power to oppose it. Brian Higgins represents the 26th Congressional district. His office can be reached at 716-852-3501 or 716-282-1274. Chris Collins represents the 27th Congressional district. His office can be reached at 716-634-2324 or 585-519-4002.

Support the work of the ACLU who are holding our government accountable to our Constitution, laws and the vision of our founders. You can donate through their website at

Commit to supporting the resettlement of refugees. There are several organizations in Buffalo the help refugees resettle and become a part of our community. Donate, volunteer, help in any way that you can. Journeys End is one that Episcopal congregations have worked with. Their web-site is Contact Archdeacon Tom Tripp at to ask advice on a program at your congregation on refugee resettlement.

Above all pray. Pray for those who have been turned away from our country. Pray for those who are being detained. Pray for those who will face further persecution or even death because of this action. And pray for President Trump and his advisers, that God will turn their hearts.

The Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin

Bishop of Western New York

January 30, 2017

Baltimore seafarers center helps crew stranded in harbor by snafus

Mon, 01/30/2017 - 2:48pm

Director Mary Davisson (second from right) escorted representatives of the Philippines Embassy (in life vests) via a McAllister tug to visit with crew of the Newlead Granadino. Photo: Philippines Embassy and used with permission of captain

[Episcopal Diocese of Maryland] “If this had to happen to us, we’re glad it happened here.”

So said the crew of the cargo vessel M/T Newlead Granadino to the Rev. Mary Davisson, executive director and chaplain at the Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center (BISC). The crew was marooned on board by immigration restrictions, corporate snafus and seaworthiness regulations.

The vessel finally docked in mid-January after four months anchored in Baltimore harbor. Since first learning of the vessel’s engine trouble and financial issues in September, BISC stayed in communication with International Transport Workers Federation’s hard-working inspector Barbara Shipley, Coast Guard officers, Seafarers International Union Port Agent Elizabeth Brown and other port partners.

One of Davisson’s first calls last fall was to Mission to Seafarers Project Manager Ben Bailey. BISC is affiliated with Mission to Seafarers, an international entity with Anglican roots. Bailey was very helpful in explaining how MTS might be able to help BISC supply emergency provisions. The crew of 18 was then virtually out of food and water at their anchorage. Fortunately, Shipley was quickly able to address the provisions problem through the manning agency and an interim ship management company hired by a bank.

Meanwhile, offers of help poured in from the entire Baltimore community and beyond. BISC’s ecumenical team of volunteers shopped for everything from rosaries to toothpaste and thermal underwear. The vessel’s boiler had broken and there was some delay in getting safe space heaters on board.

Believe Wireless Broadband (BISC’s own internet provider) supplied free internet. The Roman Catholic Apostleship of the Sea donated a television and other items. Seafarers International Union stored and sorted numerous donations of warm clothing and food from the wider community. Brown worked closely with Shipley in addressing crew needs. McAllister Towing, the Maryland Pilots, and Vane Brothers facilitated delivery of supplies and visits to the anchorage. Davisson has visited the crew at least nine times at anchorage and the dock, offering prayers, delivering donations, and checking on crew welfare.

The crew finally got paid. Twelve of the original 18 have now been repatriated. One was the captain, who emailed Davisson, “A big thank you to the whole community of Baltimore”!