Episcopal News Service
[Episcopal News Service] Kevin Noone, Swedish Secretariat for Environmental Earth System Sciences at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (and a research scientist in atmospheric chemistry and physics at the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University) speaks May 2 to the “Sustaining hope in the face of climate change” gathering in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Episcopal Church and the Church of Sweden.
[Episcopal News Service – Washington, D.C.] The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Church of Sweden (Lutheran) committed during a climate change conference here to “leading a conversion of epic scale, a metanoia, or communal spiritual movement away from sin and despair toward the renewal and healing of all creation.”
“We commit to being the voice and hands that will witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and build the moral and political will that prompts action from our elected leaders,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson and Church of Sweden Archbishop Anders Wejryd said in a joint statement issued May 2. “As international churches with congregations in many nations, we can and will use our global networks to promote a political framework to limit climate change, while in a unified voice we speak to the world about the urgency of committed climate work.”
They addressed their statement to “our churches and to people of faith around the world.”
The complete statement is here.
The statement was announced the evening of May 1 during the opening session of a two-day gathering was sponsored by the Episcopal Church and the Church of Sweden. It included two pubic sessions at St John’s Lafayette Square, as well as visits to Capital Hill by the official participants to advocate for climate-change action. The theme of the conference was “sustaining hope in the face of climate change.”
The genesis for the gathering, according to the Rev. Margaret R. Rose, the Episcopal Church’s deputy for ecumenical and interfaith collaboration, was a conversation between Jefferts Schori and Wejryd about the two churches’ ecumenical work and “our common passion about climate change.”
Jefferts Schori acknowledged during her opening remarks to the gathering that “the idea of changing climate elicits grief in many people, as well it should.” She said that people express that grief in “many of the classic ways that we respond to all kinds of loss.”
Some deny the facts, some look for others to blame and some get angry and flaunt their wastefulness or charge others with political manipulation of the media, she said.
“And some get so depressed that they simply leave the conversation – ‘there’s nothing I can do, so why should I try?’ People of faith know another response, particularly in this Easter season.”
That response, she said, begins with rejecting “the ancient demons of individualism, materialism and selfishness – what today we often call consumerism” because they all feed on a “self-focused fear of scarcity.” The drive to consume more and more “soon becomes time stolen from the possibility of healing, like the time that could be spent building deep and meaningful friendships with God and neighbor … we are made whole in loving God and neighbor and not ourselves alone.”
The presiding bishop invoked the Easter season to say that, along with the risen Christ, there is “abundant hope that the body of God’s creation might also rise – renewed, redeemed, and made whole.”
“May we be made Christ’s passion, God’s hands, and Spirit’s breath to make it so,” Jefferts Schori said.
Swedish Archbishop Wejryd told the gathering on May 1 that the churches must “regain the notion of life as a gift … it’s given to us continuously.” With that recollection of the gift of life, “we might be able to move the focus from ourselves to the giver and the wishes, the ideals of the giver, and to the other people and to the rest of creation that are also gifts from that giver.”
Science can help people focus on the gift of life by showing “how complicated, how diverse, how balanced, how interdependent” the world is, Wejryd said.
Wejryd said he finds hope for the future and the role of the churches in that future in the knowledge that people of faith are “stewards of stories that tell us that things can change and they can change for the better.”
Mary Evelyn Tucker, a senior lecturer and senior research scholar at Yale University and a co-founder and co-director of its Forum on Religion and Ecology gave the keynote address on May 1. She continued the conference’s theme of hope by suggesting that the academy (and scientists in particular) and the church must both change their stances in the face of overwhelming evidence of climate change.
Tucker said “moral wakening is critical,” but, she asked, “will moral rebuke be sufficient or is evoking compassion for the earth community – both people and planet – what is also needed?”
Guilt can be a motivator for change but, Tucker said, “if we are just inducing guilt into the people we won’t have the transformation of action and long-term change.”
Tucker asked “how can we break through scientific complexity to moral clarity that gives rise to social, political and religious change?”
“Scientific facts and graphs have not changed behavior,” she noted.
And, scientists are not inclined to make the leap from describing problems to advocating prescriptions for change, according to both Tucker and another speaker at the opening session, Kevin Noone, the Swedish Secretariat for Environmental Earth System Sciences at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and a research scientist in atmospheric chemistry and physics at the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.
Tucker also noted that “divinity schools have not made the climate central to their cause” and thus have lost the chance to train new generations of clergy and lay people.
She also suggested that religious communities are filled with dichotomies that offer both barriers to working for climate change and foundations upon which to base such work. For instance, many denominations are hierarchical in their structure and make exclusive claims on truth but they also advocate fairness and equality, and are inclined toward “broad moral outreach.”
Most important, Tucker said, is Christianity’s “incarnational sensibility.”
“Incarnation alone would say ‘what a sacrilege that we are doing.’ This whole world is infused with the logos from the very beginning, as John’s gospel says,” she said.
Tucker acknowledged that many denominations are worried about declining participation, but suggested they are focused in the wrong place.
“Maybe the dying away of the churches is for a new birthing — a new Easter moment – that we will not be obsessed by our sectarian concerns but, we will be truly obsessed about the life of the planet that is disappearing before our eyes,” she said.
People are in despair about the environmental future and in their existential concern lies “the call of the churches,” she added.
The call cannot be answered just with “guilt inducing” or developing an ethic that provides answers, she said, and it is about more than taking leadership on practical issues such as changing to energy-efficient light bulbs or reducing carbon footprints.
“If we do not provide the wellsprings of hope for who we are as humans in relation to a magnificent, diverse, alive, living universe, we will have failed in our task,” she said. “But as we let go of some of our concerns about whether we will live or die as institutions and when we put in front of us [the question of] will the earth live or die, we will find not only the hope but the power, the energy and the vision to go forward.”
In his remarks, Noone continued the theme of community as a way to address climate change and agreed that scientists and theologians must be part of that community. “We have to be singing in a choir … not just one single voice.”
And, he said, humans must not only repair their relations with each other but also with the created world. “It’s not ‘us and nature;’ it’s ‘us.’”
Science is showing that this activity is not just changing how the planet looks, it is changing how the planet works, according to Noone. Still, there is hope in the fact that humans have drastically changed energy, transportation and agriculture in just the past two generations, Noone said. He argued that those changes show society can transform drastically and relatively swiftly.
The challenge now is what sort of changes will be made, he said, and people have to decide, “how comfortable or dis-comfortable we want transitions into the future to be.”
The conference’s May 2 public session featured two roundtable discussions, both facilitated by the Rev. David Crabtree, anchorman at WRAL-TV, North Carolina, and also an Episcopal Church deacon.
“Envisioning hope: a faith-based, international response to climate change” participants included Diocese of Panama Bishop Julio Murray; Willis Jenkins, the Margaret Farley Associate Professor of Social Ethics at Yale Divinity School and author Ecologies of Grace: Environmental Ethics and Christian Theology; and Mary Minnete, ELCA director of environmental education and advocacy, the North American representative to the ACT Alliance Climate Change Advisory Group and the current chair of the National Council of Churches’ Eco-Justice Working Group.
“Responding in Hope: the local church’s response to climate change” included the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, priest associate of Grace Church, Amherst, Massachusetts and co-chair of Religious Witness for the Earth; the Rev. Henrik Grape, coordinator of the Church of Sweden’s environmental network and a member of the Climate group of the Christian Council of Sweden; and Cassandra Carmichael, director of the National Council of Churches Washington office and the NCC’s eco-justice program director.
Minnete told the gathering that people of faith can tell politicians and policy makers stories they would otherwise not hear.
“We can say to them ‘we’ve been to Africa and this is what we’ve seen’ or ‘we live in the Arctic and this is what we know’,” she said. “Those stories are very powerful because they come out of not our own interest but, our interest in our neighbors and in God’s creation. That’s something you don’t hear a lot in Washington and internationally in the climate change discussions.”
Murray agreed and added that churches must stop thinking only about how they can speak for those whom they think of as voiceless and instead “articulate the space” where people who previously have not been heard can tell their stories.
Speaking of neighbors, Jenkins answered a question about how churches can convince their members to truly love their neighbors in the midst of climate change discussions by saying the question people have to be willing to ask first is “are we willing to stop harming our neighbors.”
“We let privilege cloud us from seeing what our obligations are,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to flatter us by saying we’re trying to figure out how to love our neighbors.”
Faith communities must ignore political boundaries, he said, and come together to invent ways to stop harming each other “and, maybe …one day, learn how to love.”
Bullitt-Jonas said “I’m putting the results in the hand of God. I do not know how this is going to end. If everyone chooses not to do anything, we can assume the end is not going to be so good.”
“But if, one by one, more and more of us say ‘I’m going to live in the power of the risen Christ. I’m going to cast my lot with hope. I’m going to be on the winning team,’ who knows what God can do with that,” she said. “Then the future is open-ended and we get to create it.”
On-demand video recordings of both roundtables are due to be posted here soon.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service
[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]
[Episcopal News Service] Mary Evelyn Tucker, a senior lecturer and senior research scholar at Yale University and a co-founder and co-director of its Forum on Religion and Ecology gave the keynote address for the Sustaining hope in the face of climate change gathering in Washington, D.C., May 1-2, sponsored by the Episcopal Church and the Church of Sweden. She suggested that the academy (and scientists in particular) and the church must both change their stances in the face of overwhelming evidence of climate change.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached the following sermon May 2 during “Sustaining Hope in the Face of Climate Change,” an event hosted by the Episcopal Church and the Church of Sweden held at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.
May 2, 2013
Sustaining Hope in the Face of Climate Change
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Washington, DC
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
There is something very appropriate about celebrating the feast of Athanasius in the midst of conversations about hope and climate change. Athanasius was a priest and then bishop in the 4th century in Egypt. He’s best remembered for his earnest opposition to the heresy called Arianism. At the time the church was still sorting out the particulars of Trinitarian theology that we pretty much take for granted today. Arius insisted that Jesus was human, only human, a creature made by God the father, and therefore distinct from God. Athanasius worked tirelessly – and often thanklessly – in particular in response to his government to develop a fuller understanding of Jesus as part of the Trinitarian nature of God. He was a proponent of the line in the Nicene Creed that says that Jesus Christ is “of one Being with the Father.”
This isn’t just parsing words or deciding how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Athanasius was responsible for clarifying the basic Christian understanding that Jesus is both fully God and fully human. How we understand who Jesus is has everything to do with how we understand our lives and vocation as Christians. One of Athanasius’ best-known lines is, “God became human in order that we might become divine.” God’s entry into human flesh showed us what it means to be fully human, in the largest sense of that and invites us to share that vocation and possibility. If Jesus were not fully God and fully human, it would deny any possibility that beings who inhabit flesh and blood human bodies could have a real relationship with God whom we call the Holy One.
That is the same sort of thing Ezekiel is talking about in eating the scroll – when he says, ‘eat the word of God, and become what you eat, and then go tell Israel. Go show and tell your neighbors what it is to be made in the image of God.’ That’s what we do here as well – come and eat at this table, and become what you eat, and then share yourself, your Word of God-self and flesh of God-self with a very hungry world.
Yet it is not only God in human flesh who images the Holy One. All parts of God’s creation must reflect their maker in some way. The riotous diversity of the flowers of the field, the creatures of the sea – even Leviathan, whom God has made “for the sport of it” according to the psalmist – and the sparrows that Jesus invokes in the gospel today – their creator cares for them and intends that each one flourish.
That is part of the challenging message of today’s gospel: you will be hated because of what you teach – watch out if you advocate for justice for all the world’s people and the other parts of creation! But don’t be afraid to speak up and tell out what you know, for your soul will find life in doing that. Even in the face of danger, know that God cares for each one of us in ways beyond our knowing, even more than the evidence we see in the birds of the air and the flowers of the field.
Athanasius had a predecessor in the faith named Irenaeus who famously remarked that the glory of God is a human being fully alive. That’s what Athanasius also meant in saying that our vocation was becoming divine. Fully alive human beings know themselves made in the image of God, created as brother to the sun and sister to the moon, friend to the deer, and ant, and sparrow, as well as the enfolding blanket of atmosphere and ocean. We are one family, related through the one who created us to reflect the divine glory in fully-aliveness. There is no room in that for misusing our brothers and sisters, human or otherwise. There is abundant hope for all, given the image we reflect, and the ever-creative One in whom we live and move and have our being.
Athanasius stood firm in the face of those who would deny God’s presence in human flesh. We must do the same in the face of those who would destroy God’s reflection in creation.
 Psalm 104:26
 Matthew 10:22-32
[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Stephanie Johnson, Province 1 energy stewardship minister, reads “A statement to our Churches and to people of faith around the world” from the leaders of the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Church of Sweden (Lutheran) issued at the start of the May 1-2 “Sustaining hope in the face of climate change” gathering in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Episcopal Church and the Church of Sweden.
The full text of the statement is available here.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The heads of three religious denominations – The Episcopal Church, theChurch of Sweden, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) – signed a joint statement “to celebrate our commitment to hope in the face of climate change.”
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Church of Sweden Archbishop Anders Wejryd and ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson presented the document at the close of the first of a two-day environmental event, “Sustaining hope in the face of climate change” in Washington DC on May 1 and 2.
In the statement the religious leaders vowed, “It is a challenge to commit ourselves to walk a different course and serve as the hands of God in working to heal the brokenness of our hurting world.”
The statement follows in full:
A statement to our Churches and to people of faith around the world:
The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Church of Sweden (Lutheran) meet in Washington, DC this Easter season to celebrate our commitment to hope in the face of climate change. As Christians, we do not live in the despair and melancholy of the tomb, but in the light of the Risen Christ. Our resurrection hope is grounded in the promise of renewal and restoration for all of God’s Creation, which gives us energy, strength and perseverance in the face of overwhelming challenge. For us, this promise is more than an abstraction. It is a challenge to commit ourselves to walk a different course and serve as the hands of God in working to heal the brokenness of our hurting world.
We must be clear: the scientific data is stark, as even today we experience the effects of climate change with catastrophic floods, lengthy droughts and historic rainfalls. Scientific research shows that climate change affects nearly all aspects of life. This includes the world’s food security and humanity’s ability to grow crops to feed a growing world population. Likewise, biodiversity is being destroyed and ecosystems undermined in many parts of the world as species become extinct. Water will continue to become scarcer, causing regional conflicts. Indigenous people will be forced to leave their traditional lives, as the poorest among us will bear the greatest burdens of the changing climate.
Our goal as Christians is not to ascribe blame but rather to examine our own actions and how they relate to God’s will for us and for the created order, and to challenge our communities to a new way of being. We are painfully aware that those of us living in the northern hemisphere are responsible historically for the majority of greenhouse-gas emissions, the major contributor to climate change. Accordingly, we hold a particular responsibility for the changes in practice that will reverse the trajectory of atmospheric warming and safeguard the sanctity of what our God calls “very good.” (Genesis 1)
Accordingly, we confess our own role in the crisis facing our world:
We confess that, even as God has entrusted the care of the world to human hands, we have treated this sacred trust as a license to consume rather than build up, to reap rather than to sow.
We confess that we have placed the interests of our own comfort and lifestyle before the good of creation and the wellbeing of others, particularly the most vulnerable among us.
We confess our own indifference to the wellbeing of the countless future generations who will bear the brunt of the choices we make today.
For these things and all else we have done to contribute to the desecration of the world God so loves, we repent and ask forgiveness At the same time, we draw hope – and a grounding for amendment of our own lives – in the growing body of evidence that a transition to a low-carbon society is both feasible and economical, and may help foster a good life. We commit to being the voice that challenges our communities to action: in the global community, in our own political contexts, and in our daily lives.
We commit to being the voice and hands that will witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and build the moral and political will that prompts action from our elected leaders. As international churches with congregations in many nations, we can and will use our global networks to promote a political framework to limit climate change, while in a unified voice we speak to the world about the urgency of committed climate work. We commit to leading a conversion of epic scale, a metanoia, or communal spiritual movement away from sin and despair toward the renewal and healing of all creation.
Specifically, we commit to:
1) Advocate for national and international policies and regulations that enable a swift transition from dependence on fossil fuels to clean, safe, renewable energy, and for economic systems that are fair and just.
2) Sustain an interfaith, international conversation around climate change and social and economic justice while working to keep climate change in the public’s attention.
3) Encourage our faith communities to deeper theological reflection on the moral and ethical response to climate change, and then to make public witness about climate change through advocacy at the local, national and international levels.
4) Invite our communities to prayerfully consider how their own actions, lifestyle choices – particularly our energy consumption — affect the environment.
5) Offer our communities continued opportunities to learn about climate change and the universal church’s response to this crisis.
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
Church of Sweden Archbishop Anders Wejryd
ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson
Oliver was ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Florida in 1960. He was rector of two mission congregations in Georgia and North Florida. He then served as a canon of St. John’s Cathedral in Jacksonville, Florida; rector of Holy Innocents’ in Sandy Springs, Georgia; and dean of St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Jackson, Mississippi.
He became dean of the American Cathedral in Paris in 1974.
In 1979 he was called to St. James’ Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, where he served as rector until 1990 when he retired and moved back to Georgia.
He earned a degree in Labor Economics from the University of Florida, and then became a line officer in the U.S. Navy. He served aboard an aircraft carrier and later at the Navy Pre-Flight School in Pensacola, Florida.
He was a member of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem; the Southern Academy of Letters, Arts and Sciences; the Newcomen Society; the English Speaking Union; and Beta Theta Pi (a social fraternity). He was a companion of the Order of the Cross of Nails at Coventry Cathedral (he was associated there during a 1965 sabbatical in England).
During his tenure at St. James the parish built an apartment complex for seniors, St. James’ Manor, in 1985.
Oliver is survived by two nephews.
A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, at Oaklawn Cemetery in Jacksonville, Florida.
A service celebrating Oliver life is planned for a future date to be held at Canterbury Court Community in Atlanta, Georgia.
[Episcopal News Service] En el caso de un terremoto, o de incendios o de cualquier otro desastre, Betsy Eddy tuiteará una invitación a la comunidad de Diamond Heights en San Francisco para que vengan a la iglesia episcopal de San Aidán [St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church] en busca de alimentos y de información sobre recursos.
Es sólo una parte del plan de preparación para desastres de la iglesia —y del barrio. Utiliza recursos existentes porque “ya tenemos una despensa que sirve más de 100 comidas en nuestra zona postal”, dijo Eddy, una feligresa de San Aidán.
“Sabemos que habrá necesidad de alimento en una situación de emergencia y colaboramos con el Banco de Alimentos de San Francisco, de manera que seremos un sitio de distribución de alimentos en Diamond Heights”.
Colaborar con otros en la comunidad es fundamental para el plan —todavía un trabajo en progreso, dijo Eddy en una entrevista reciente con Episcopal News Service. Ella se estaba preparando para una reunión el Grupo de Trabajo Listos para el Desastre de Diamond Heights [Diamond Heights Disaster Ready Working Group] (DRWG por su sigla en inglés), que ella y el Rdo. Tommy Dillon, rector de San Aidán, ayudaron a iniciar hace unos cinco años.
“Tratamos de crear esta red integral de preparación y colaboración”, dijo ella refiriéndose al DRWG. Sus miembros son empresas y organizaciones de la barriada que se reúnen regularmente desde 2008.
“Hoy hablamos acerca de nuestro plan de ponerse en contacto con personas del barrio que así lo deseen; tal vez que vivan solas, tengan discapacidades, [se trate de] una persona mayor que necesite a alguien que lo chequee debido a una enfermedad crónica o a la incapacidad de realizar las actividades de la vida diaria”.
Cada vez en mayor número, congregaciones y diócesis episcopales, y en algunos casos provincias e incluso entidades regionales, están colaborando en la preparación para los desastres inevitables, según Katie Mears, directora de Preparación y Respuesta a Desastres en EE.UU. de Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales.
Llegar a otros en Diamond Heights
La iglesia de San Aidán, como gran parte de Diamond Heights, se asienta “sobre una colina y corremos el riesgo de deslizamientos de tierra. También tenemos el peligro de un gran incendio, porque éste es un sitio ventoso”, dijo Eddy. “Diamond Heights es una zona mezclada donde tenemos unas pocas casas caras y más de 600 viviendas de precios accesibles que podrían significar residentes vulnerables en el caso de un desastre”.
Tanto ella como Dillon tenían bastante experiencia de desastres como para saber lo que querían que estuviera lo más listo que fuera posible para [cuando se produjera] el próximo, afirmó.
Antes de mudarse a San Francisco hace unos seis años, Dillon había movilizado a su parroquia de Baton Rouge, Luisiana, para responder a la secuela del huracán Katrina, que en 2005 mató a más de 1.800 personas y causó daños a la propiedad que se calculan en $81.000 millones.
Eddy había vivido el terremoto de Loma Prieta, un temblor de 6,9 de magnitud [en la escala de Richter] que ocurrió durante las prácticas de la Serie Mundial de béisbol de 1989. Causó la muerte a unas 60 personas, lesionó a más de 3.700 y dejó a millares sin hogar. Y aunque no afectó directamente la barriada de Eddy, “bastó para asustarme”, dijo. “Hubo suficiente muerte y destrucción para que resultara bastante siniestro”.
Todo lo cual los llevó a pensar que “las personas necesitan información de cómo prepararse” para el próximo desastre inevitable, afirmó. Cosas tales como “la manera en que nos reunimos después de un desastre, el modo en que evaluamos cuáles son las necesidades. Tenemos en cuenta todo tipo de desastres, incluidos los ataques terroristas y los incidentes bioquímicos. Hacemos planes para situaciones de emergencia del barrio y para desastres regionales”.
Han creado una página web con recursos informativos y el 6 de junio se reunirán con funcionarios municipales y de servicios humanitarios, empresas y asociaciones de vecinos de la localidad para discutir el anteproyecto, contó ella.
“Lo que ha sido realmente importante con nuestro grupo básico es que hemos creado vínculos tan fuertes los unos con los otros que incluso si el gran terremoto se produce mañana vamos a poder trabajar mucho mejor juntos, porque ya tenemos ese vínculo y esa capacidad de enlace en la barriada”, explicó Eddy.
Diócesis que se preparan y están listas
El 25 de abril, el Rdo. Russ Oeschel, arcediano y coordinador de preparación para desastres de la Diócesis Episcopal de Texas, “estaba preparándose para llevar” a miembros de un equipo diocesano de atención espiritual de emergencia a la ciudad de West, cerca de Waco, donde la explosión en una planta de fertilizantes mató a 14 personas, incluidos las primeras 11 que acudieron a socorrer.
El equipo y sus miembros, tanto clérigos como laicos, son sólo un aspecto del plan diocesano de preparación y respuesta ante el desastre. No son “los rescatistas, pero sí los que le siguen; siempre que a los residentes les permitan regresar a las áreas afectadas, estamos allí para ofrecerles atención espiritual mientras comienzan a evaluar lo que les ocurrió”.
Aproximadamente 58 diócesis [episcopales] de EE.UU. han participado desde que Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales comenzó a adiestrar a coordinadores diocesanos para desastres hace tres años. Otras diez diócesis estarán presentes en los próximos entrenamientos dentro de pocos meses, dijo Mears.
“Trabajamos fundamentalmente en el nivel diocesano… para ayudar a los que se entrenan para concebir lo que sería para ellos una diócesis preparada”, expresó Mears en una reciente entrevista telefónica. Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales también tiene en su página web materiales y medios informativos de preparación disponibles para congregaciones y diócesis.
Las sesiones de entrenamiento invitan a los participantes “a pensar en los medios de que estamos dotados, a mencionar esos dones de manera que usted sepa con lo que va a contribuir cuando se presente un desastre” y a darse cuenta de que incluso cuando la cobertura de prensa cese, las iglesias seguirán aún allí, agregó Mears.
La recogida de escombros después del huracán Ike en 2008 y la reconstrucción luego de los incendios forestales de 2011 “en la cual todavía estamos trabajando” bastaron para convencer a la Diócesis de Texas, con sede en Houston, de la inevitabilidad y complejidad de los desastres y de la necesidad de flexibilidad y de frecuente actualización de los planes, dijo Oeschel.
Cuando los vientos de 193 kilómetros por hora del huracán Ike azotaron Galveston el 13 de septiembre de 2008, causando la muerte de cientos de personas, “probablemente la mayoría de nuestras parroquias no tenía planes de preparación para desastres”, recordaba Oeschel. Pero desde los incendios del condado de Bastrop en 2011 “muchas más iglesias han comenzado a ocuparse de ellos también”.
En el transcurso del año pasado, la diócesis creó un comité de preparación para el desastre que se reúne regularmente para ofrecer instrucción y apoyo a las iglesias. Él también se ha puesto en contacto con una red de agencias comunitarias en Organizaciones Voluntarias Activas en Desastres (VOAD, por su sigla en inglés).
Al presente, el plan consiste en “una estrategia global básica para garantizar que haya personas asignadas a parroquias con responsabilidades en diferentes áreas, tales como edificios y terrenos, asuntos litúrgicos, una lista de personas a quienes llamar y computadoras, porque si en primer lugar todo no está bien pensado, cuando ocurre un desastre, ya no hay tiempo”, dijo Oeschel.
Suzanne Moore, ex presidente del comité de preparación para desastres de la Diócesis de Easton, dice que la preparación es esencial ya que: “como iglesia, no debemos reaccionar, debemos responder, y el entrenamiento nos da las destrezas para responder”.
Las iglesias son “santuarios de esperanza en ocasiones de desastre”, añadió Jim Cockey, el actual presidente del comité de la diócesis de Easton. “Has logrado tener un plan. No siempre puede funcionar, pero puedes adaptarlo sobre la marcha”.
Apoyo provincial y regional
El Muy Rdo. Gary Abbott dice que él cree que la IV Provincia es la única de las nueve provincias de la Iglesia con un plan de preparación y un equipó disponible para aliviar a un clero abrumado por el desastre y ofrecer ayuda espiritual a sus fieles.
La provincia incluye 29 diócesis a lo largo del suroeste de Estados Unidos, desde el norte de la Florida hasta Kentucky y hacia el oeste hasta Misisipi. Está localizada en “los corredores de tornados, donde los vientos soplan desde el océano y causan grandes destrozos los huracanes”, dijo Abbot, rector de San Lucas [St. Luke’s], en Hawkinsville, Georgia, y coordinador provincial de preparación para desastres desde principios de este año.
El comité se conecta con obispos y diócesis que experimentan un desastre.
Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales “es el primero en responder, pero nosotros podemos poner un equipo sobre el terreno en 48 horas, compuesto de clérigos y consejeros profesionales preparados”, afirmó. “Cubriremos los oficios dominicales del sacerdote. Podemos llevar consejeros adiestrados que pueden hablar con las personas de las parroquias y la IV Provincia nos cubrirá esos gastos”.
En otro ejemplo de crear redes regionales, las diócesis devastadas por el huracán Sandy —Nueva York, Nueva Jersey, Long Island y Easton, en Maryland— están compartiendo recursos durante la fase de recuperación, que terminará por incluir el esbozo de planes de preparación, según Keith Adams, coordinador local de Nueva Jersey.
“Desafortunadamente, ahora mismo tengo el diez por ciento de mi perspectiva en preparación y el 90 por ciento está en empeños de recuperación a corto plazo”, dijo.
Pero él añadió que “la cooperación regional es enorme. Existe toda esta oportunidad para la comunicación que no ha sucedido antes, y cuando esto se acabe, lo que va a quedar es este concepto de que todos podemos trabajar juntos”.
Prepararse y hacer un plan
Cuando la casa de Judy Stevenson, en West Pittston, Pensilvania, se inundó en septiembre de 2011, “fue una pesadilla. Tenía más de dos metros de agua en el primer piso”. Su marido, Jim, un sacerdote episcopal jubilado, se estaba recuperando de una hospitalización de 40 días y, al enterarse de que el río Susquehanna estaba crecido, ella necesito que la ayudaran a empacar para evacuar.
“Muchísimas personas piensan qué hacer después, pero si pudiéramos estar preparados de antemano para mover las cosas, para empacar cosas, eso sería de gran ayuda”, dijo Stevenson, que regresará a su casa la próxima semana.
Mears, de Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales, dijo que los planes de preparación deben ser flexibles y adaptables, así como ampliamente divulgados.
Es también importante recordar, dijo Mears, que “la parte del desastre que vemos en los medios de prensa no es la de mayor interés para las congregaciones. Al igual que [ocurrió] con el huracán Sandy, las cámaras hace mucho que se han ido, pero las iglesias no pueden irse a ninguna parte”.
Adams fue de la misma opinión. “No es más que el mundo en que vivimos hoy”, dijo. “Tenemos que esperar que siempre habrá algo. La cuestión es, cómo podemos establecer conexiones con las comunidades, con las parroquias y con las diócesis, y las diócesis entre sí y finalmente estar conectados con toda la Iglesia y responder a las personas necesitadas. De eso se trata”.
–La Rda. Pat McCaughan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service.
Traducción de Vicente Echerri
[Episcopal News Service] Cuando el huracán Sandy azotó la costa oriental de Estados Unidos hace seis meses, lo que en inglés llamarón Frankenstorm [una tormenta monstruosa] le dio a algunos episcopales de Nueva Jersey nuevas formas de entender las experiencias bíblicas del exilio y la Pascua.
El contingente de invierno de la capilla de Santa Isabel del Mar [St. Elizabeth’s Chapel-by-the-Sea] en Ortley Beach se encuentra en el exilio. En la noche del 29 de octubre de 2012, Sandy arrancó la capilla de temporada de su atracadero cerca de la playa y, arrastrándola a través de la península de Barnegat, la lanzó a la bahía. Los miembros de esta congregación están asistiendo al culto dominical en la iglesia bautista de East Dover en tierra firme.
Es un bonito edificio y la congregación y el pastor han sido muy acogedores, dijo el guardián mayor Dennis Bellars. Después de que encontraran la silla del obispo en las ruinas de Ortley Beach, la congregación [de la iglesia bautista] permitió a los miembros de Santa Isabel que la guardaran en el santuario.
No obstante, dijo Bellars, “no es nuestra casa”.
A unos 64 kilómetros al sur, en Beach Haven, casi al final de Long Beach Island, la iglesia episcopal de los Santos Inocentes [Holy Innocents Episcopal Church] se levanta apenas a una corta cuadra del Atlántico, [sitio] en que la calle Pearl constituye su frontera norte. Sandy rompió la barrera de dunas de la calle Pearl y “el agua del mar inundó la calle Pearl por un par de mareas”, según dijo el Rdo. Frank Crumbaugh, rector de los Santos Inocentes.
Las casas que estaban en el lado norte de la calle Pearl se inundaron, pero el agua no subió de la acera en el lado sur donde están la iglesia y la rectoría, explicó él.
“Esa es una convincente señal de protección”, dijo Crumbaugh a Episcopal News Service. “Cuando uno ve eso, entiende lo que significa la ‘Pascua’ [del Éxodo] de una manera nueva”.
Sin embargo, para Crumbaugh resulta claro que “no fuimos preservados para celebrar nuestra buena fortuna; fuimos preservados para ayudar a los que no lo fueron y eso ha sido una señal convincente en Beach Haven”.
Y esa ha sido la otra lección bíblica que dejó la secuela de Sandy: las iglesias tienen un papel [que desempeñar] en sus comunidades basado en la Escritura.
“Todo el mundo sabe lo que hemos sufrido y lo que hemos perdido, y todo el mundo sigue sintiendo esas pérdidas y, al mismo tiempo, somos como Pablo afirmó Crumbaugh, “como castigados, más no muertos; como moribundos, pero he aquí vivimos”.
Lo mismo podía decirse en Tuckerton, en tierra firme a unas 10 millas de Beach Haven, del otro lado de la bahía y en el circunvecino municipio de Little Egg Harbor.
“En verdad estoy haciendo mi mayor esfuerzo para que esta congregación sea la Iglesia, que es realmente el cuerpo de Cristo en relación los unos con los otros y con el mundo de una manera que, dicho con optimismo, es algo diferente de una institución secular de socorro”, dijo la Rda. Martha McKee, vicaria de la iglesia del Espíritu Santo [Church of the Holy Spirit] en Tuckerton. “Estamos trabajando arduamente para apoyar a la gente que necesita ayuda y caminando con ellos a través de este proceso, pero también apoyando a los que ayudan a otros”.
Muchísimas personas necesitan ayuda. El cuadro estadístico del paso de Sandy a través de Nueva Jersey es pavoroso. El Departamento de Asuntos Comunitarios de Nueva Jersey dice que Sandy afectó o destruyó 246.000 unidades de vivienda en el estado. Más de 23.000 de esas viviendas estaban en el condado de Ocean, cuya frontera oriental bordea el Atlántico y que, junto con el condado de Monmouth, al norte y también en la costa, sufrieron el peor embate de la tormenta.
Casi todas las 731 casas de Ortley Beach sufrieron daños graves o moderados, según el Departamento de Asuntos Comunitarios de Nueva Jersey. El sesenta y dos por ciento de las 795 viviendas de Beach Haven resultaron severamente dañadas, según [informa] el estado. La tormenta afectó los hogares de aproximadamente 59 feligreses de los Santos Inocentes y las pérdidas en seis casas fueron totales, dijo Crumbaugh. Ocho familias resultaron desplazadas de alguna manera.
Y en Tuckerton, el estado dice que el 30 por ciento de las 1.316 casas del lugar presentaban daños graves o moderados, mientras el 90 por ciento de las 1.801 viviendas del vecino Little Egg Harbor enfrentaron el mismo destino. Según dijo McKee, el 20 por ciento de los hogares de los miembros del Espíritu Santo se perdieron del todo o sufrieron daños graves. Esa cifra se traduce en aproximadamente 30 familias en una iglesia cuya asistencia dominical promedio es de 75 personas, añadió ella.
Cada congregación se enfrenta o se enfrentará con la tarea de discernir qué papel está siendo llamada a asumir en la vida de la comunidad que la rodea después de Sandy. En tanto que los miembros de Santa Isabel esperan regresar a su salón de reuniones en cuestión de cuatro a seis semanas para sus oficios de verano, enfrentan un problema mayor en lo que respecta a la reconstrucción de su iglesia.
El seguro cubrirá los costos de reconstrucción de un edificio del mismo tamaño hecho de los mismos materiales, dijo Bellars, pero los miembros tienen muchas ideas más allá de esos criterios básicos.
Keith Adams, coordinador de recuperación de desastres de la Diócesis de Nueva Jersey, auspiciará en breve una sesión de estrategia para los miembros de Santa Isabel.
Algunos de los miembros, dijo Adams, ya han dicho que si Dios se llevó la iglesia y les dejó con un terreno limpio “luego, Dios quiere que hagamos algo; nos está dando una oportunidad”.
Parte de la oportunidad se centra en saber que, antes de Sandy, la congregación había recibido el permiso de la diócesis para pasar de ser una capilla de temporada a convertirse en una iglesia que funcionara todo el año.
Según dijo Adams, la sesión de estrategia comenzará por abordar la cuestión no sólo de cómo reanudar los oficios en el sitio, sino también “de qué manera uno puede servirle ahora a sus vecinos que fueron afectados y a la comunidad en general, porque deben ser y desean ser un símbolo de la comunidad y quieren desempeñar un papel en la manera en que esa comunidad va a regresar como un todo y cómo va a seguir adelante”.
Algunos miembros, explicó Adams, quieren construir una réplica de la iglesia [que antes existía], mientras otros han sugerido construir un edificio de varias plantas que les permita ofrece toda una serie de servicios sociales. Él sospecha que, al final, la forma y la misión de Santa Isabel estarán a medio camino entre esos dos polos “y va a ser para ellos un magnífico vivero para levantar una congregación en su entorno”.
Entre tanto, en Beach Haven y Tuckerton, los episcopales siguen ayudando a otros al tiempo que se esfuerzan en rehacer sus propias vidas juntos.
Muchos propietarios de casas en Beach Haven son personas mayores que trabajaron todas sus vidas, compraron una casa de playa en una etapa temprana que alquilaban la mayor parte de cada verano, de manera que “las visitas de verano les pagaron la casa”, dijo Crumbaugh. Finalmente, los dueños se jubilaron, vendieron sus casas en el norte de [Nueva] Jersey o en Pensilvania, climatizaron la casa de Beach Haven para el invierno y se mudaron para “ocupar físicamente su más importante propiedad.
“El huracán Sandy barrió un montón de cuentas bancarias”, agregó él.
Crumbaugh dijo que su parroquia ha descubierto un llamado a “amar y apoyar” a los residentes mientras navegan en lo que a veces puede ser el gigantesco papeleo de la FEMA y de los seguros.
Acompañando esa realidad está la frustrante y “difícil realidad” de que las compañías de seguro deben responder tanto a sus accionistas como a los suscriptores de sus pólizas. La opinión común de que cuando uno compra un seguro tiene alguna protección y defensa de parte de la compañía de seguros no es verdad, agregó Crumbaugh.
A esa realidad se añade el hecho de que los mapas de asesoramiento sobre elevación de inundaciones recientemente publicados por la FEMA exigirán que algunos propietarios eleven sus casas hasta poco más de 4 metros sobre el nivel del mar. Tal obra costará decenas de miles de dólares y las elevaciones exactas aún no quedarán definitivamente establecidas hasta dentro de un año o más. Algunas personas pueden verse obligadas a vender su propiedad en lo que bien puede ser un mercado muy difícil.
Adams dijo que su oficina ha relacionado a los Santos Inocentes con los Servicios Legales de Nueva Jersey y que la parroquia dirige un grupo de apoyo para “conectar a estas personas con algún buen servicio legal”.
“Estar con las personas mientras toman algunas decisiones difíciles y se esfuerzan en imaginar cuál ha de ser su próxima movida ha sido un privilegio”, subrayó Crumbaugh. “Es una ardua tarea para los que los quieren, pero es por eso que estamos aquí”. El frustrante proceso de recuperación “nos brinda otra oportunidad como iglesia, porque debemos abordar también esas necesidades emocionales y espirituales”, dijo Adams.
Crumbaugh, McKee y Adams coincidieron en que ellos saben que las iglesias pueden ser lugares para que las personas “sencillamente vengan y se reúnan con otras y compartan el mismo tipo de dificultades; para estar en un ambiente donde resulte seguro hablar acerca de esas dificultades”, según dijo Adams, y luego tienes las iglesias que les ayudan a conseguir ayuda.
La parroquia de Tuckerton, que antes de Sandy ayudaba a administrar dos bancos de alimentos con otras iglesias locales y que ofrecía gratuitamente una comida comunitaria mensual que atraía a 80 o 100 personas, ha continuado fortaleciendo el problema de la alimentación en su ministerio. Otras iglesias episcopales han ayudado con el suministro de alimentos para la comida mensual. La iglesia episcopal de la Trinidad [Trinity Episcopal Church] en Moorestown asumió la comida comunitaria al día siguiente de Navidad, dijo McKee, y la semana pasada su grupo de jóvenes cocinó una comida en los Santos Inocentes. En el congelador ya está lista la comida del próximo mes.
[La congregación del] Espíritu Santo también ofreció una noche de familia con la ayuda de Esperanza y Restauración de Nueva Jersey [New Jersey Hope and Healing] que incluía una cena, actividades para niños y una plática con los padres sobre cómo ayudar a los niños pequeños a lidiar con el desastre.
Además, la Iglesia ve parte de su ministerio después de Sandy en alimentar a los muchos voluntarios que han venido a la zona a ayudar en las tareas de recuperación.
Según el clima se hace más tibio y más personas se ocupan por sí mismas de la reconstrucción de sus propias casas, McKee predice que la gente empezará a buscar guarderías infantiles y “diversión a bajo costo”. La iglesia planea tener más de estas comidas en el futuro y pronto espera ofrecer noches con películas y cenas.
“Creo que la escuela bíblica de vacaciones será muy exitosa este verano por esa misma razón”, agregó.
Cualquiera que sea la labor “lo más importante que podemos decir”, afirmó McKee, es que “la Iglesia va a estar aquí trabajando con usted”.
El mensaje es: “Dios está andando con nosotros y nosotros andamos con ellos y estamos aquí para quedarnos y lo que hacemos evolucionará según evolucionen las necesidades”.
Adams afirmó que la evolución y el discernimiento es parte continua de esta labor que él llama “un proceso en el cual transformamos una tragedia en una oportunidad” para discernir qué talentos y recursos puede aportar cada congregación para ser relevante en el servicio a sus comunidades no sólo después de los desastres, sino todos los días.
O, en otras palabras, dijo Adams, “poder salir a su comunidad y ver el rostro de Dios en otras personas y hacerles que vean el rostro de Dios en nosotros”.
– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service.
Traducido por Vicente Echerri
[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori opens the May 1-2 “Sustaining hope in the face of climate change” gathering in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Episcopal Church and the Church of Sweden. The full text of her statement follows.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
The idea of changing climate elicits grief in many people, as well it should. That grief finds expression in many of the classic ways that we respond to all kinds of loss. Some simply can’t imagine that it’s real – and there are still more than a few climate deniers out there. Some try to find someone to blame, or shift it away from themselves: they say things like: ‘A bunch of crooked scientists cooked this up to keep themselves in research funds’ or, ‘It’s not my fault, and I will not be responsible!’ Some people are angry enough at the very idea that we might all share some responsibility that they flaunt their wastefulness or charge others with political manipulation of the media. And some get so depressed that they simply leave the conversation – ‘there’s nothing I can do, so why should I try?’
People of faith know another response, particularly in this Easter season.
The evidence of climate change due to human behavior is quite literally undeniable. And the evidence leads to models and predictions which are becoming clearer about the extent of the impact we are likely to experience.
Atmospheric warming is leading to greater variability in climate as well as more extreme climatic events. Floods and drought will continue to become more common, and storms more intense. We will see more wildfires, rain-induced floods, heat waves, and tidal surges. Water for drinking and irrigation will be in short supply in areas that used to have plenty. Aquifers will be depleted. Food crops will become more difficult to grow in areas of historic cultivation. We will see disease outbreaks in human beings and in food crops as environmental stress increases. Disease organisms are likely to migrate toward the poles as temperatures rise, and naïve, unexposed populations will be newly affected – malaria and their mosquito vectors are a good example. The lack of resistance will mean higher death and debility rates in human beings, livestock, and cereal crops. Large numbers of species will become extinct – a trend we can already see developing – and the reduction in diversity will mean both lower ecosystem resilience and greater outbreaks of weedy or opportunistic species.
The oceans are already experiencing the effects of increased atmospheric carbon. Acidification from dissolved CO2 is straining the ability of organisms to lay down carbonate shells and skeletal structures – corals and many planktonic organisms, in particular. They are often significant primary producers at the base of the food chain; and as a result, we will see reduced fisheries productivity, as well as stressed and shrinking populations of sea birds and mammals.
Can you hear the hoofbeats of the four horsemen of the apocalypse? We know that famine, drought, and pestilence often lead to conflict and war. The ensuing death and destruction are immense and tragic. We have choices in the face of the doom and gloom before us. We can choose to ignore those hoofbeats, or we can remember who we are, whose we are, and why we are here. Our shared credo affirms that we are children of God, made in God’s image, and created for right relationship with God, one another, and all creation.
Those horsemen are driven by the ancient demons of individualism, materialism, and selfishness – what today we often call consumerism. All of them feed on a self-focused fear of scarcity. The beasts of war can become vehicles of peace and justice when we ride to the aid of another, remembering that we belong to one another. We do not exist alone; ultimately we will all thrive or die together. The stuff that so many of us are so urgently accumulating will not save us, make us whole, or heal the emptiness within us. The stuff that consumes us will eventually also consume many of the other parts of creation – and quite literally burn it to a crisp.
The developed world’s drive to consume more and more diminishes our own lives – even at the level of the time and energy we put into finding stuff to buy or working to pay for it. It soon becomes time stolen from the possibility of healing, like the time that could be spent building deep and meaningful friendships with God and neighbor. Each consumptive act puts more carbon into the atmosphere as factories and engines churn out commodities to be bought and sold.
Yet people of faith know another response than futility, particularly in the face of Easter resurrection. There is still enough health in us to remember that we are claimed by one who reminds us that we do not live by bread alone. We are made whole in loving God and neighbor and not ourselves alone.
We are gathered here today and tomorrow to learn about the realities of climate change, and to discover ways we can ride to the aid of others, responding to the disaster already emerging.
Christ is risen, and the body of Christ is being raised and inspired, God-breathed, to become leaven and spirit in the world around us. There is indeed abundant hope that the body of God’s creation might also rise – renewed, redeemed, and made whole. May we be made Christ’s passion, God’s hands, and Spirit’s breath to make it so.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
[Episcopal News Service] Church of Sweden Archbishop Anders Wejryd presents some closing thoughts during the first session of the May 1-2 “Sustaining hope in the face of climate change” gathering in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Episcopal Church and the Church of Sweden.
[Episcopal Divinity School -- Press Release] The Rev. Margaret Rose has been the deputy for ecumenical and interfaith collaboration for the Episcopal Church since 2012. In this position she has helped represent the Episcopal Church in many interfaith contexts. This spring she is a Procter Scholar at Episcopal Divinity School.
The Procter Scholars Program at EDS provides a semester in residence for clergy and lay people involved in ministry, offering opportunities for individual study and for mutual inquiry through courses at EDS and in the Boston Theological Institute.
In addition to attending classes—Global Anglicanism, Pluralism and Christianity, Women, Gender, and Politics in Transnational Perspective, and Women and Buddhism to be precise—she has been attending lectures, seminars, and workshops from topics ranging from Women and Pentecostalism, Buddhist Ministry, Sharia law, and more. She has met with colleagues at the Pluralism Project at Harvard University and enjoyed the benefits of the Center of the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. Because of her history in women’s ministries, (she is the former director of women’s ministries for the Episcopal Church) she has a particular desire to engage women’s public voice and has had the opportunity to explore those issues as well. She is also passionate about the issues of “Religion in the Public Sphere” and will be sharing further thoughts on this theme at a coffee hour during Alumni/ae Days at EDS.
We asked Margaret a few questions about how she understands the importance of her work in the Episcopal Church and about her semester at EDS.
Q: What has been one of your highlights as deputy for ecumenical and interfaith collaboration for the Episcopal Church?
Last summer the Episcopal Church hosted 35 ecumenical and interreligious partners for the first few days of General Convention. During meals, meetings, and conversation, we shared similarities and differences of our faith and legislative bodies. A particular highlight was when Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America invited the Presiding Bishop to come to their annual gathering. “You can teach us something about the legislative process and we can teach you how to bring whole families together for a celebration!” Having guests at General Convention helps those of us who were hosts to see what was going on from the perspective of another.
Q: What is something that has surprised you about this work?
How much I care! Two very different examples of why this work is so important to me spring to mind. The first was a recent meeting of Anglican Roman Catholic USA dialogue. For two days we met to share theology, to struggle with deep questions of faith, and explore our common yearning for the unity of the church. We shared our deepest thoughts, yet when we came to share eucharist, we could not. I do believe the church is one. Our work is to find a way to return to that Oneness in a way that does not deny the rich diversity that is also the church.
Another example was my recent visit to the Friday Muslim prayer service at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul here in Boston It was the first Friday of prayers after the Marathon bombing. I was in the small area with the women, but able to see that there were 400 or more others praying in the hall of the Cathedral. The dean of the Cathedral welcomed everyone, saying, “I think God is rejoicing that you are here today and that we can share the space of prayer.” As prayers continued, the women invited me to kneel with them.
Q: Given recent events both in Boston and throughout the world, what are the most important things to keep in mind when working on interfaith issues?
Relationship, relationship, relationship. In other words, get to know the people who practice a different faith from your own. Find out what is happening in your neighborhood. It might be a surprise to learn how many different faith traditions are represented in places that were once homogenous. Beware of stereotypes. And be open to surprising similarities and surprising differences.
Q: Why do you think this work is so important at this stage of the Episcopal Church?
Many have said that “this is a post denominational age” and they may be right. Others have said “this is a spiritual and not religious time.” They may be right as well.
Common to both statements is an ecumenical opportunity for partnership, valuing our particular identities and history while engaging in common work for the good of our communities. Ecumenical and interreligious work is vital, not only because it provides common ground for common work, but also because as we get to know the faith of others, I believe we deepen our own.
Q: Can you provide an example of a church or congregation that you have come to know that has successfully fostered interfaith collaboration? What were their specific strategies?
You have two in Massachusetts that I know about—the shared space between Emmanuel Church and a temple and the Friday prayers at the Cathedral. There are many others, both here and around the country.
Perhaps the most well known is the Tri Faith Initiative in Omaha, Nebraska where a church, a synagogue, and a mosque are being built on the same land. A shared community center will be built. Already a children’s curriculum, called Interplay is in use locally with plans for publication. A resolution from this past General Convention calls on Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers to survey the dioceses to discover their interreligious work. Our hope is to map their findings. They will be available on our web site for congregations and worshipping communities to share information and strategies.
Q: This past weekend was the Climate Revival in Boston that brought together the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ. How was the event received and does this represent the kind of work that you think we’ll see more of moving forward?
This is precisely the kind of advocacy work that is well suited for ecumenical and interfaith groups. The two “revival” services this weekend both at Old South Church and later Trinity Church were filled. Issues like climate change or peace connect with people of all faiths as well as those who are not involved in faith groups. It is a way to bring together people who care about the earth and working toward a just and sustainable peace.
Q: What are some highlights of your time here at EDS?
Having the opportunity to read again, spending hours going deeper into an area of study, having the time to reflect on the work of years of ministry, connecting to current writing and academic work.
Another highlight has been to be at EDS, getting to know professors and students and their work, being grateful for those who are now working toward ordained ministry, for their care and love for the church.
And then to be in Cambridge—where I studied and began the first years of ordained ministry. There have been moments connecting with old friends and appreciating new, strategizing next steps for interreligious work.
Though I am not an EDS alum, I took classes for a semester to prepare for GOEs and later, I was the coordinator of the very new FLT program. My daughters were in day care here. EDS was a place of welcome and Carter Heyward, Sue Hiatt, and later Alison Cheek served as mentors for women and men in the Diocese. EDS was very much a part of my formation in the early years of my ordained ministry. For that I am very grateful. It has been a gift to be here on St. John’s Road.
Click here to learn more about “Religion in the Public Sphere,” which takes place on May 8 and 9 at Episcopal Divinity School. The Rev. Margaret Rose will be sharing her thoughts on this theme at a coffee hour on May 9 during Alumni/ae Days at EDS.
[Episcopal Relief & Development] Six months after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the northeastern United States, washing over coastal barrier islands and causing an estimated $50 billion in wind and flood damage, the Episcopal dioceses of Easton, New Jersey, Newark, New York and Long Island are continuing to aid impacted communities and facilitate recovery efforts.
Episcopal Relief & Development is currently supporting the work of disaster recovery coordinators in the dioceses of Easton, New Jersey and New York, and has helped establish a regional hub for volunteer coordination that that will connect mission teams with projects in all impacted dioceses. These coordinators are working with Episcopal congregations, ecumenical and community-based groups and a range of government agencies to assess needs and organize response activities.
“The Episcopal response to Hurricane Sandy has been huge and heartfelt,” said Katie Mears, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Director of US Disaster Preparedness and Response. “Congregations in the impacted areas mobilized immediately to provide essential relief to people and families in need, and now we are working with dioceses to further equip them to drive recovery and continue reaching out to vulnerable people in their communities.”
Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program contacted dioceses in Hurricane Sandy’s path in late October 2012, when weather predictions indicated that the storm’s impact would be heavy and widespread. By then, the organization had already reached out to partners in the Caribbean, where the hurricane had blasted through Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba, killing dozens and causing severe damage. Dioceses and congregations in the US were encouraged to review their disaster preparedness plans and identify ways that they could expand existing ministries to address anticipated post-disaster needs.
Following the storm, Episcopal Relief & Development remained in contact with key diocesan staff to gather information about where damage had occurred and what the most pressing needs were. Many Episcopal congregations launched into action, expanding their feeding ministries, providing basic supplies and gas cards, and hosting community agencies that connected people to services and federal disaster funds. Many parishes also held events such as movie nights and community meals, providing respite from the stress of dealing with the disaster and creating space for people to talk about what they were going through and receive pastoral care.
While relief activities still continue in some locations, the recent focus of diocesan response to Sandy has been on strengthening capacity at regional and congregational levels to engage in rebuilding and other recovery activities. The diocesan disaster recovery coordinators are charged with organizing and directing volunteers, and helping to develop ministries that will serve communities long after hurricane recovery is complete.
New Jersey disaster recovery coordinator Keith Adams, a retired federal disaster management expert with over 30 years of experience, is looking at storm response as an opportunity for the Episcopal Church to grow in service and in community. “We’re looking to see how our parishes can be connected with each other, how they can serve each other, how they can develop mission capacity, how they can serve their community in a disaster,” he said. ”Every day in New Jersey is a disaster for someone, and this storm is how the Church remembered it has responsibility for everyday vulnerable people. People are stepping up, being called to do more.”
Adams recounted how St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Keansburg opened its parish hall the day after the storm so volunteers could make sandwiches and offer food in spite of the power being out. Now, St. Mark’s serves 125 people with two meals a day, and has connected with New Jersey Hope and Healing, an organization that provides social workers, mental health services, crisis counseling and nurse visits.
In Staten Island, the Episcopal Diocese of New York’s disaster recovery coordinator, Darrell Hayes, is also focusing on building relationships with impacted community members and organizations in order to build homes for the most vulnerable residents impacted by the storm. As a retired NYPD sergeant, Hayes has extensive experience in organizing and directing teams of people, and says that his current work is a “natural fit.” Coordinating with case managers from a Lutheran organization active in Staten Island, Hayes finds work sites that require insulation, sheetrock, plastering or painting, and then matches volunteer teams with those skills. Hayes also meets frequently with fellow members of the Staten Island Community and Interfaith Long-Term Recovery Organization, and particularly the rebuilding committee, to discuss progress and address challenges.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, congregations in the Northeast and across the country renewed interest in disaster preparedness, creating or reviewing preparedness plans and reaching out to other churches and community-based organizations to make contact and build relationships. Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program offers resources for preparedness planning, which can be downloaded for free from the organization’s website. The program has also published tips and how-tos for disaster response ministries, and offers support through the Partners in Response team and Diocesan Disaster Coordinators. More information is available at www.episcopalrelief.org/USDisasterProgram.
To volunteer for Hurricane Sandy response work in Easton, New Jersey or New York, please visit the regional volunteer page hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of New York here.
[Episcopal News Service] In the event of earthquake or fires or other disaster, Betsy Eddy will tweet an invitation to San Francisco’s Diamond Heights community, to come to St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church for food and resource information.
It’s just one part of the church’s — and the neighborhood’s — disaster preparedness plan. It makes use of existing resources because “we already have a food pantry every Friday that serves over 100 in our zip code,” said Eddy, a St. Aidan’s parishioner.
“We know there will be a need for food in an emergency situation and we are working with the San Francisco Food Bank so they know we will be a food distribution site in Diamond Heights.”
Collaborating with others in the community is key to the plan — still a work in progress, said Eddy in a recent interview with the Episcopal News Service. She was preparing for an April 24 meeting with the Diamond Heights Disaster Ready Working Group (DRWG), which she and the Rev. Tommy Dillon, St. Aidan’s rector, helped to start about five years ago.
“We’re trying to create this whole network of preparedness and joining together,” she said of DRWG. Its members are neighborhood businesses and organizations that have met regularly since 2008.
“Today we’re talking about our plan to contact people in the neighborhood who want to be contacted, maybe who live alone, have disabilities, an older person who needs somebody to check on them because of chronic disease or because of inability to do the activities of daily living.”
Increasingly, local Episcopal churches and dioceses and, in some cases provinces and even regional entities, are collaborating to prepare for inevitable disasters, according to Katie Mears, director of US Disaster Preparedness and Response for Episcopal Relief & Development.
Reaching out to others in Diamond Heights
St. Aidan’s Church, as much of Diamond Heights, sits “on a hill and we’re in danger of landslides. We also have a very great fire danger because it’s windy here,” said Eddy. “Diamond Heights is a mixed area where we have a few expensive homes but we also have over 600 units of affordable housing which could mean vulnerable residents in the event of a disaster.”
Both she and Dillon knew enough about disasters to know they wanted to be as prepared as possible for the next one, she said.
Prior to moving to San Francisco about six years ago, Dillon had mobilized his Baton Rouge, Louisiana parish to respond in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which in 2005 killed more than 1,800 people and caused an estimated $81 billion in property damage.
Eddy had lived through the Loma Prieta earthquake, a magnitude-6.9 temblor that occurred during the warm-up of the third game of the 1989 Major League Baseball World Series. It killed about 60 people, injured more than 3,700 and left thousands homeless. Although it didn’t directly affect Eddy’s neighborhood “it was enough to scare me,” she said. “There was enough death and destruction that it was pretty scary.”
All of which got them thinking that “people need information on how to prepare” for the inevitable next disaster, she said. Things like “how we meet after a disaster. How do we assess what are the needs. We’re also including all types of disasters, including terrorist and biochemical incidents. We’re planning for neighborhood emergency situations and regional disasters.”
They’ve created a website with resources and on June 6 will meet with local city and human service officials, businesses and residents associations to discuss the draft plan, she said.
“What’s really been important with our core group is, we’ve created such strong bonds with each other that even if the big earthquake hits tomorrow we’re going to be able to work much better together, because we already have that bond and connectedness in the neighborhood,” Eddy said.
Dioceses receive training; getting ready
On April 25, the Rev. Russ Oeschel, archdeacon and disaster preparedness coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, “was getting ready to deploy” members of a diocesan emergency spiritual care team to the city of West, near Waco, where an April 17 fertilizer plant explosion killed 14 people, including 11 first responders.
The team and its members, both clergy and laity, are one aspect of the diocesan disaster preparedness and response plan. They aren’t the “recovery people, but they are in the next wave, whenever it is residents are allowed back into areas damaged, we’re there to provide spiritual care as they begin to assess what’s happened to them.”
About 58 U.S. dioceses have participated since Episcopal Relief & Development began training diocesan disaster coordinators three years ago. Ten additional dioceses will be at upcoming trainings in the next few months, said Mears.
“We mostly work on a diocesan level … to help those being trained to think about what a prepared diocese would look like to them,” Mears said in a recent telephone interview. Episcopal Relief & Development also has disaster preparedness materials and resources available to congregations and dioceses posted on its website.
Training sessions invite participants “to think about the ways we’re gifted, to name those gifts so you know what you bring to the table when a disaster hits” and to realize that even when the media coverage halts, the churches are still there, Mears said.
Mopping up after Hurricane Ike in 2008 and rebuilding after 2011 wildfires “which we’re still working on” was enough to convince the Houston-based Diocese of Texas of the inevitability and complexity of disasters and of the need for flexibility and frequent plan updates, Oeschel said.
When Hurricane Ike’s 120 mile-an-hour winds struck Galveston on Sept. 13, 2008, killing hundreds “probably most of our parishes didn’t have disaster preparedness plans,” Oeschel recalled. But since the 2011 Bastrop County fires “many more churches have started working on them, too.”
Within the last year, the diocese created a disaster preparedness committee that meets regularly to offer education and support to churches. He has also reached out to a network of community agencies in Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD).
At present, the plan is “a basic overarching strategy to ensure that there have been people assigned in parishes that have responsibility for the various areas, like buildings and grounds, liturgical items, a call list and computers because if it’s not thought through first, when a disaster happens, there’s not time,” Oeschel said.
Suzanne Moore, former chair of the Diocese of Easton disaster preparedness committee, says preparedness training is essential so that: “as a church, we need to not react, we need to respond and training gives us the skills to respond.”
Churches are “sanctuaries of hope in times of disasters,” added Jim Cockey, the current chair of the Easton diocese’s committee. “You’ve gotta have a plan. It may not always work, but you can adapt it as you go.”
Provincial and regional support offered
The Very Rev. Gary Abbott says he believes that Province IV is the only one of the church’s nine provinces with a preparedness plan and a team available to relieve disaster-weary clergy and to offer spiritual care to their flocks.
The province includes 29 dioceses along the Southeastern United States, from Florida north to Kentucky and west to Mississippi. It is located “in the tornado alleys, where winds blow in off the ocean and wreak havoc with hurricanes,” said Abbott, rector of St. Luke’s, Hawkinsville, Georgia, and the provincial disaster preparedness coordinator since the first of this year.
The committee connects with bishops and dioceses experiencing a disaster.
Episcopal Relief & Development “is the first responder, but we can put a team on the ground in 48 hours, made up of clergy and trained professional counselors,” he said. “We’ll cover that priest’s Sunday services. We can bring in trained counselors who can talk to people within parishes and Province IV will pay those expenses ourselves.”
In another example of building regional networks, the dioceses devastated by Hurricane Sandy, New York, New Jersey, Long Island and Easton in Maryland, are sharing resources during the recovery phase, which will eventually include drafting preparedness plans, according to Keith Adams, New Jersey’s local coordinator.
“Unfortunately, right now I have ten percent of my view on preparedness and 90 percent is on short-term recovery efforts,” he said.
But, he added that, “the regional cooperation is huge. There’s this whole opportunity for communication that has not happened before and when this is over, what’s going to be left behind is this idea that we can all work together.”
Get trained; get a plan
When Judy Stevenson’s West Pittston, Pennsylvania home was flooded in September 2011 “it was a nightmare. I had six feet of water on my first floor.” Her husband Jim, a retired Episcopal priest, was recovering from a 40-day hospitalization and, with advance notice that the Susquehanna River had crested, she needed help packing up to evacuate.
“A lot of people think of what to do afterwards but if we could be prepared beforehand to move things, to pack things, it would help,” said Stevenson, who will return to her home next week.
Episcopal Relief & Development’s Mears said preparedness plans need to be flexible and adaptable, as well as widely communicated.
It’s also important to remember, said Mears, that “the part of the disaster we see in the media is not the part of biggest focus for congregations. Like with Hurricane Sandy, the cameras have long left, but the churches can’t go anywhere. We have to recognize the long arc.”
Adams agreed. “It’s just the world we live in today,” he said. “We have to anticipate that there’s always going to be something. The question is, how can we make connections with communities, with parishes and with dioceses and dioceses with each other and actually be connected to the whole church and respond to people in need. That’s what it’s all about.”
–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal News Service] When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast of the United States six months ago, the so-called “Frankenstorm” gave some New Jersey Episcopalians new ways of understanding the biblical experiences of exile and Passover.
The winter contingent of St. Elisabeth’s Chapel-by-the-Sea in Ortley Beach is in exile. Sandy swept the seasonal chapel off its moorings near the beach, across Barnegat peninsula and into the bay the night of Oct. 29, 2012. The members are worshipping in East Dover Baptist Church on the mainland each Sunday.
It’s a nice building and the people and pastor have been very welcoming, Senior Warden Dennis Bellars said. After the bishop’s chair was found in the ruins of Ortley Beach, the congregation allowed the St. Elisbeth’s members to keep it in the sanctuary.
Still, Bellars said, “it’s not home.[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]
About 40 miles south in Beach Haven near the end of Long Beach Island, Holy Innocents Episcopal Church sits about a very short block from the Atlantic with Pearl Street forming the northern boundary of its block. Sandy breached the Pearl Street dune and “green sea water was running down Pearl Street for a couple of tides,” according to the Rev. Frank Crumbaugh, Holy Innocents’ rector.
Houses on the north side of Pearl Street were flooded but the water got no closer to the church and rectory than the sidewalk on the south, he said.
“That’s a powerful sign of deliverance,” Crumbaugh told Episcopal News Service. “When you look at that, you understand what ‘Passover’ means in a new way.”
Yet, Crumbaugh is clear that “we weren’t preserved to celebrate our good fortune; we were preserved to stand with people who weren’t and that’s been a powerful sign in Beach Haven.”
And that has been the other power biblical lesson Sandy left in its wake: churches have a role in their communities based in Scripture.
“Everybody knows what we’ve suffered and lost, and everybody continues to feel those losses and, at the same time, we’re like Paul,” Crumbaugh said. “We’re chastised but not killed; killed and, see, we are alive.”
The same could be said in Tuckerton, on the mainland about 10 miles across the bay from Beach Haven, and in the surrounding Little Egg Harbor Township.
“I really am trying very much to have this congregation be the church, which is really the body of Christ connected to one another and the world in a way that hopefully is somewhat different than a secular relief institution,” said the Rev. Martha McKee, vicar of Church of the Holy Spirit in Tuckerton. “We’re working very hard on supporting the people who need help and walking with them through this process, but also supporting the people who are helping others.”
A lot of people need help. The statistical picture of Sandy’s swath across New Jersey is stunning. The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs says Sandy damaged or destroyed 346,000 housing units in the state. More than 23,000 of those homes were in Ocean County, whose eastern boundary hugs the Atlantic and which, along with Monmouth County to the north along the ocean, took Sandy’s brunt.
Nearly all of Ortley Beach’s 731 homes suffered severe or moderate damage, according the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Sixty-two percent of the 795 households in Beach Haven were severely damaged, according the state. The storm damaged the homes of about 59 Holy Innocents parishioners and six homes were total losses, Crumbaugh said. Eight families were displaced in some way.
And in Tuckerton, the state says 30 percent of the 1,316 were severely or moderately damaged while 90 percent of the 1,801 homes in nearby Little Egg Harbor met the same fate. McKee said 20 percent of the Holy Spirit members’ home are either a total loss or were severely damaged. That number translates to about 30 households in a church with an average Sunday attendance of 75, she added.
Each congregation is faced or will be faced with the task of discerning what role it is being called to take in the post-Sandy life of its surrounding community. While the St. Elisabeth members hope to be back in their repaired fellowship hall in about four to six weeks for summer services, they face the larger issue of how to rebuild their church.
Insurance will cover the cost of rebuilding the same size building out of the same materials, Bellars said, but the members have many ideas beyond those basics.
Keith Adams, Diocese of New Jersey disaster recovery coordinator, will soon host a visioning session for St. Elisabeth members.
Some of the members, Adams said, have already told him that if God took away the church and left them with a clean lot “then God wants us to do something; he’s giving us an opportunity.”
Part of the opportunity centers on knowing that, before Sandy, the congregation had received the permission of the diocese to continuing evolving from seasonal chapel to a year-round church.
The visioning session will begin to address the question not just of how to resume Sunday services on the site, according to Adams, but “how can you now serve your neighbors who were affected and the community because they need to be and they desire to be a symbol of the community and they want to play a part in how that community is going to come back together and how it’s going to look going forward.”
Some members, Adams said, want to build a replica of the church while others have suggested that a multi-story building might allow them to provide a range of social services. He suspects the eventual shape and mission of St. Elisabeth’s will be somewhere in between those two poles “and it’s going to such a great seed for them to build a congregation around.”
Meanwhile in Beach Haven and Tuckerton, Episcopalians are continuing to help others and they put their own lives back together.
Many homeowners in Beach Haven are elderly people who worked all their lives, bought a beach house early on, rented it out most of each summer so that essentially “the summer visitors bought the house for you,” Crumbaugh said. Eventually the owners retired, sold their home in north Jersey or Pennsylvania, winterized the Beach Haven house and moved in to “physically occupy their most important asset.
“Hurricane Sandy wiped out a lot of bank accounts,” he said.
Crumbaugh said his parish has found a call to “love and support” residents as they navigate what at times can be a morass of FEMA and insurance paperwork.
Accompanying that reality is the frustrating and “hard reality” that insurance companies must answer to shareholders as well as policy holders. The common assumption that when one buys insurance one has some protection and advocacy from the insurance company is not true, Crumbaugh said.
Added to that reality is the fact that FEMA’s recently released advisory base flood elevation maps will eventually require some homeowners to elevate their houses as high as 14 feet above sea level. Such work will cost tens of thousands of dollars and the exact elevations will not be set for another year or more. Some people may be forced to sell their property in what may well be a very tough market.
Adams said his office has connected Holy Innocents with Legal Services of New Jersey and the parish is running a support group to “hook these people up with some good legal advice.”
“To stand with people while they’re making some hard choices and working very hard to figure out what their next move is has been a privilege,” Crumbaugh said. “It’s hard work for them and it’s hard work for those that love them but that’s why we’re here.
The frustrating process of recovery “brings on another opportunity as a church because we need to address those emotional and spiritual needs as well,” Adams said.
Crumbaugh, McKee and Adams all said they know that churches can be places for people “just to come and be around others that are sharing the same kind of difficulties; to be in an environment where it is safe to talk about them,” according the Adams, and then have the churches help them can get help.
The Tuckerton parish, which before Sandy helped run two food banks with other local churches and offered a free monthly community meal that usually attracted between 80 to 100 people, has continued and strengthened the food focus of its ministry. Other Episcopal churches have helped supply food for the monthly meal. Trinity Episcopal Church in Moorestown took the community dinner the day after Christmas, McKee said, and last week its youth group cooked a meal last week at Holy Innocents. It’s in the freezer there ready for next month’s meal.
Holy Spirit also offered a family night out with the help of New Jersey Hope and Healing that included a dinner, activities for children and a talk with parents about helping young children cope with disaster.
In addition, the church sees part of its post-Sandy ministry as helping to feed the many volunteers who are coming into the area to help with recovery efforts.
As the weather warms up and more do-it-yourselfers start to work on their homes, McKee predicts people will be looking for childcare and to “be entertained at lower cost.” The church plans more such dinners in the future and hopes to offer nights with movies and dinners soon.
“I think vacation Bible school will be a big deal this summer for that some reason,” she said.
Whatever the work, “the most important thing we can say,” McKee said is that “the church is going to be here walking with you.”
The message is: “God is walking with us and we’re walking with them and we’re here to stay and what we do will evolve as the needs evolve.”
Adams said that evolution and discernment is an on-going part of his job that he calls “a process in which we can transform a tragedy into an opportunity” by discerning what skills and resources each congregation can bring to bear to be relevant and serve their communities not just after disasters but every day.
Or, in other words, Adams said, “to be able to go out in their community and to see the face of God in other people and have them see the face of God in us.”
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
La crisis venezolana ya cuenta con 9 muertos y 75 heridos. Si la situación empeora se corre el riesgo de mayores derramamientos de sangre. A la hora del cierre de este noticiero (viernes a las 11:25 AM hora del Este) la población está en vilo esperando noticias. Es significativo el aumento del número de rumores, uno de ellos es que hay “dos ejércitos” que se disputan entre bambalinas la cúpula del poder. Otro rumor es el temor a una mayor “cubanización” del conflicto que pudiera ser el primer paso hacia una guerra civil. El candidato opositor Henrique Capriles dijo por televisión: “Nos han robado las elecciones” y las impugnaremos. El papa Francisco ha pedido a todas las personas de buena voluntad a que oren por la paz en Venezuela. Así lo haremos…
La noticia de que dos obispos ortodoxos secuestrados en Siria habían sido puestos en libertad, es falsa. El viernes pasado Yohanna Ibrahim, arzobispo siriaco y su colega el griego Boulos Yaziji, ambos de la región de Aleppo, seguían en manos de sus secuestradores sin saberse los motivos de su cautiverio y quiénes perpetraron el hecho. Fieles cristianos oran por la libertad de ambos pastores.
Yoani Sánchez, la bloguera opositora al gobierno de Cuba está por regresar a su patria después una extensa gira por países de Europa y las Américas. Muchos de sus admiradores consideran que ha hecho un gran trabajo, aunque para ella casi todo ha sido una novedad. Aún sus críticos iníciales aceptan que ha tenido éxito dando a conocer parte de la situación de Cuba. Jorge Ramos dijo al final de una entrevista en Univisión Yoani “se ha convertido en la mayor esperanza de un cambio democrático y de libertad en Cuba”. Yoani ha sido propuesta para el Premio Nobel de la Paz.
El debate de la reforma migratoria avanza en el Comité Judicial del Senado de Estados Unidos pero se ha visto amenazada por legisladores conservadores que quieren relacionar la reforma migratoria con el ataque terrorista en Boston. Varios miembros del comité han dicho que una cosa no tiene que ver nada con la otra. El anteproyecto elaborado por el Grupo de los Ocho, de 844 páginas, incluye un camino a la legalización para millones de indocumentados. Algunas de las condiciones que se proponen son difíciles de cumplir, además de estar fuera del alcance económico de los indocumentados.
La diócesis episcopal de Texas aprobó el 25 de abril un acuerdo mediante el cual el Hospital San Lucas de Houston será transferido a Iniciativas Católicas de Salud, una organización dedicada asuntos médicos, mediante el pago de mil millones de dólares. La diócesis formará con ese dinero una fundación para asistir a personas de bajos recursos y patrocinar nuevos sistemas de salud. También se acordó la permanencia en la nueva organización del personal médico, técnico, de oficina y mantenimiento. Fundado en 1945 el Hospital San Lucas tiene el honor de haber realizado el primer trasplante de corazón. Es considerado uno de los 100 mejores hospitales de Estados Unidos.
La semana pasada salió a la luz de nuevo una carta escrita por Fidel Castro a Hugo Chávez en mayo del 2007. La carta dio lugar a que el periodista Iván Ballesteros fuera separado de su cargo en Radio Caracas TV. Dice así uno de los consejos de Castro a Chávez: “Hay que encarcelar a los opositores que no aprendan, esto es lo único que los silencia, nunca dejes que se organicen, seremos respetados nuevamente por el marxismo leninismo”.
En la televisión inglesa el Dalai Lama, líder espiritual del pueblo tibetano, dijo que su sucesor bien pudiera ser una mujer. Añadió que las mujeres tienen un don especial para amar y comprender a la humanidad. El Dalai Lama actual es el número 14 en la sucesión budista comenzada en el siglo 16. Su nombre real es Ngawang Yeshey Gyatso, es monje budista y vive en el exilio desde 1950 cuando China anexó al Tibet.
Francia se ha convertido en el décimo cuarto país en aprobar la unión de personas del mismo sexo después de una larga campaña marcada por la violencia y las manifestaciones públicas. Por otra parte, el “matrimonio igualitario” fue rechazado por el Senado de Colombia. El proyecto de ley recibió 51 votos en contra y 17 a favor.
El pastor Wilfredo de Jesús de las Asambleas de Dios que sus amigos llaman “Choco”, realiza su labor pastoral en Chicago, ha sido declarado por la revista Time “una de las 100 personas más influyentes del mundo”. En 13 años su iglesia ha crecido de 120 miembros a 17,000. Además del trabajo evangelístico, la iglesia tiene un extenso programa social.
PETICIÓN: Que la paz del Señor sea siempre con nosotros.
[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached the following sermon April 27 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Boston’s Copley Square, during a daylong Climate Revival –An Ecumenical Festival to Embolden the Renewal of Creation.
The event included preaching, worship, prayers, and music in celebration of the splendor of creation, mourning of its desecration and in advocating for its restoration and renewClimate Statement.
In addition to Jefferts Schori, the event was lead by the Rev. Geoffrey Black, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ, and included video messages from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Bill McKibben, an author, environmentalist and the founder of 350.org, a global grassroots movement aimed at solving the crisis of climate change.
The presiding bishop and others also signed on to “Lazarus, come out: A shared statement of hope in the face of climate change.”
Trinity Episcopal Church, Copley Square, Boston
27 April 2013
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
We’re here today to breathe new life into a dying body – the body of God’s creation. It’s going to take the breath we have in us, and the breath of many, many others. Breathe in the breath of God, of life, and give it back – now, breathe! We’re going to need all the confidence we have that the act of breathing in and breathing out will continue – and we’re going to have to use as much hot air and vehemence as we can muster. Are you ready?
Jesus’ raising of Lazarus begins with several kinds of breathing – the calls for Jesus’ attention, then the sighs and sobs of the grieving, and hot words of reprimand: ‘if you’d only been here and paid attention…’! And then many more words trying to understand, more tears, and the charge to take away the stone.
The stone blocks the tomb, it keeps the dead dead and separate from the living. Never the twain shall meet, if the stone is doing its death-defying job. It’s not the stone’s fault, but it’s in the wrong place if we want to raise the dead. And there are far too many stones in the way.
There are stones in our shoes that cripple those who would run to heal. There is stone in the hearts of those who won’t hear the cries of fellow creatures, or see the growing chaos of a warming earth, or learn that stony hearts are killing the whole living system. There are little stones in our tear ducts that keep us from weeping, and specks in our eyes, and misplaced otoliths in our ears that block our hearing. Take away all the stones, O Lord, and give us hearts of flesh and organs of compassion, for your creation is suffering.
Let’s give thanks that the stones are beginning to be removed. That is still a work for divine breath – as Jesus acknowledges at the tomb, “thank you, God, for listening!” We know that God is always listening and breathing a response over the chaos around us. Resurrection and creative innovation are continually engaging the stuff of earth, bringing forth new life in spite of the tombs within us and around us. This city knows something about that, as so many hearts opened to strangers in recent days – may we all learn to listen and see and hope for healing and new liveliness in human communities and other parts of God’s creation. God is always delivering the dead from the tomb.
The body in the tomb is still called Lazarus. It means “God has helped.” God has always helped. We grieve the illness of the body of God’s creation, yet if we look at the long history of this body, we can see healing of the body in ages past, long before human beings were more than a dim glimmer in the DNA of creatures without backbones. The great extinction events caused by asteroids, shifts in planetary oxygen levels, or vast quantities of atmospheric dust give evidence of enormous and wide-ranging death, yet each time God’s creativity eventually brought forth new life. It was not immediate or sudden, but in God’s good time, the earth again knew riotous and flourishing diversity. The difference today is that we’re causing massive death through our own greed.
Creative breath has been displaced by a giant sucking sound, the vacuuming maw of our own emptiness. We seek to feed that desperate, gasping and grasping hunger with SUVs and more coal-fired power plants, and the latest imports of gadgets and gewgaws (and the 500 year history of that word is a reminder that this craving is not new). We feed ourselves out of season foods from far away, forgetting the delightful surprise of the first asparagus of spring or the first corn of summer. We crave houses so large they shut out the neighbors – with stones that block the sun from back yard gardens. The protection and prediction we insist on and strive for in all that accumulating frenzy ends in friendlessness, for we have no time to spend cultivating the earthy companionship for which we were created. That dying body is further burdened by our useless treatment of our own bodies – not just excessive food intake, but vain attempts to mold and remake the clay in others’ images, and remove every microbe from every surface and crevice. We are made in the image of God, uniquely gifted, beautiful, beloved, and profoundly social. What we think is human in ourselves is only a tenth of the cells in this communal organism – and the microscopic life within us feeds and nourishes and regulates our lives, until we meddle with its healthy balance. And then, quite literally, all hell breaks loose as one part of the whole exceeds its place and we find our guts revolting against us. That sick body, community that it is meant to be, is an apt reflection of the larger body of creation today.
If the stone is removed, and the way of life unblocked, what sort of Lazarus will emerge? Given what has already been done to that body, it will not be the same one that went in. Like gut microbes subjected to unrelenting courses of antibiotics, this will be a different community and system. The organ may still function, but it will do so in different ways.
The dead Lazarus may emerge, yet there will still be work to do in unbinding and turning the body loose to function creatively once more. The set points and equilibria have already moved, and it will take God’s time and divine creativity to establish new ones. Species have disappeared; others will emerge, over millennia, to take their places in the society of creation. The atmosphere has absorbed vast quantities of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping molecules. Some will be removed to ocean waters and plant tissues, but the whole system will be warmer than before, probably for geological lengths of time. The ocean creatures that live with carbonate shells and supports – like corals and some kinds of plankton – are already struggling to lay down those structures. They, too, may disappear into the fossil record, and the bigger creatures that feed on them – fish, shrimp, whales, birds – may not survive either. Something will undoubtedly evolve to replace them, but it will take more than the three or four days of Lazarus’ entombment. It will take something on the time scale of the days of the first Genesis creation story. God’s time is not our time, nor God’s ways our ways.
The gaping maw of our greed is already making life harder for our human sisters and brothers, as weather patterns shift and food crops repeatedly fail in traditional growing places. Deserts are expanding, water is evaporating, and there is less health and healing power in parts of this body. Disease organisms that have been in reasonable equilibrium will emerge with new virulence, as will pests afflicting our food crops. The results will cause suffering, want, anxiety insecurity. We know what will almost inevitably follow: conflict, violence, and war.
The stones are being moved away, the body is emerging, and it is time to unbind the body, and set it loose. For we have met that body and it is us. We, too, are Lazarus. The medieval word was lazar, and it referred to the figure in Luke 16:20, the poor man covered with sores, the leper on the sidewalk outside the rich man’s house. Samuel Johnson’s definition of a lazar is apt: “one deformed and nauseous with filthy and pestilential diseases.” The disease which afflicts lazars, the rich house-holder, and the body of this earth all has a common source – the stones that block awareness, compassion, sharing, mutuality, and love of neighbor – all our neighbors. The old word for those stones is skandaloi, stumbling blocks.
The mess we’re making of the body of creation is indeed a scandal, born of the temptation to put our individual selves in the place that belongs to the one who is beyond all of us. The good news is that we know something about the cure.
We are made in the image of God, creative and social beings meant for community. We routinely stumble over two kinds of scandalous stones – we forget that we were not created to be solitary individuals and we get stuck in understandings of community that are always too small. Jesus’ presence among us is incarnate evidence of our never-aloneness, and his ministry and death are about serving the whole of humanity and all creation. That’s why he feeds multitudes, and eats with anybody, even with germy hands, and that’s why he heals outcastes – including lepers and lazars!
Well, friends – friends of Jesus and of one another – we like to profess that we are his hands in this world. There is abundant healing work to do. It begins in discovering that our neighbors are far more numerous and diverse than we have heretofore imagined. From the microbes on our skin and in our guts to the yet-undescribed insects of tropical forests to the denizens of undersea thermal vents and the bacteria of Antarctic subglacial lakes, we are one body of creation. The health of the human part of God’s body of creation depends on all the members – we are created as a society, and we are created for productive and creative relationship with one another. We are meant to be friends. Unbinding Lazarus, and setting all the lazars free, is about restoring each to community and the possibility of redeeming friendship.
All of that takes some vulnerability – and a willingness to understand ourselves as less than omnipotent or omnicompetent. If we are social creatures, then it is only in community that we will be truly capable of breathing new life into dead and dying bodies. This body of humanity called the church has often been compared to a ship. Most ships have a compartment called a lazarette. The word probably comes from the ships that brought lepers to Italian hospitals in the middle ages, but in nautical terms a lazarette is a storage locker near the steering gear. That part of the ship is always vulnerable, close to the water, in a well near where the rudder or steering gear pierces the outer surface of the ship. A lazarette is where the emergency gear is stored – sort of a first aid kit for healing, repairing, and saving the ship and the people on it. In a very real sense, our task of unbinding is to be exposed, to be vulnerable to the force of the storm, and to be equipped and ready to heal and repair.
Friends – lazars! All hands to the lazarette! The storm is upon us, and the body may be threatened, yet we know there is also abundant possibility of new life. Let the wind of life blow in us, remove every stone, and call forth the dead and dying body. Open us to God breathing new life in us and every part of creation. Now! Breathe! Blow, bellow for Lazarus, bless and unbind that body, that it may be set free to renew the face of the earth.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affair press release] The office of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has notified the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina that Bishop-Elect Anne Hodges-Copple has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process.
As outlined under Canon III.11.4 (a), the presiding bishop confirmed the receipt of consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction, and has also reviewed the evidence of consents from a majority of standing committees of the church sent to her by the diocesan standing committee.
In Canon III.11.4 (b), Standing Committees, in consenting to the ordination and consecration, attest they are “fully sensible of how important it is that the Sacred Order and Office of a Bishop should not be unworthily conferred, and firmly persuaded that it is our duty to bear testimony on this solemn occasion without partiality, do, in the presence of Almighty God, testify that we know of no impediment on account of which the Reverend A.B. ought not to be ordained to that Holy Office. We do, moreover, jointly and severally declare that we believe the Reverend A.B. to have been duly and lawfully elected and to be of such sufficiency in learning, of such soundness in the Faith, and of such godly character as to be able to exercise the Office of a Bishop to the honor of God and the edifying of the Church, and to be a wholesome example to the flock of Christ.”
The Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple was elected on Jan. 25. Her ordination and consecration service is slated for June 15; Jefferts Schori will officiate.
While Bishop-Elect Hodges-Copple has received the necessary majority of consents, consents will continue to be accepted up to and including the July 9 deadline date.
A recap of the process
Upon election, the successful candidate is a bishop-elect. Following some procedural matters including physical and psychological examinations, formal notices are then sent by the Presiding Bishop’s office to bishops with jurisdiction (diocesan bishops only) with separate notices from the electing diocese to the standing committees of each of the dioceses in The Episcopal Church. These notices require their own actions and signatures.
In order for a bishop-elect to become a bishop, Canon III.11.4 (a) of The Episcopal Church mandates that a majority of diocesan bishops AND a majority of diocesan standing committees must consent to the bishop-elect’s ordination and consecration as bishop. These actions – done separately — must be completed within 120 days from the day notice of the election was sent to the proper parties.
If the bishop-elect receives a majority (at least 50% plus one) of consents from the diocesan bishops as well as a majority from the standing committees, the bishop-elect is one step closer.
Following a successful consent process, ordination and celebration are in order.
[Episcopal News Service] Dennis Bellars, senior warden of St. Elisabeth’s Chapel-by-the-Sea in Ortley Beach, New Jersey, reflects on Hurricane Sandy and considers the future.