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Original artwork invited for 2014 Episcopal Church Christmas card

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 2:25pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Submissions are invited for original artwork that will be used for the 2014 Episcopal Church Christmas card.

The original artwork should express a local understanding of God’s incarnation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

“The deep significance of God’s presence among us in human flesh can only be understood in particular human contexts,” noted Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. “We are not generic human beings, and because each human being is unique, we can’t make sense of this reality in a generic human image of the divine.  This is an invitation to share your understanding with the wider Church, so that all of us might have our own local image expanded and deepened.  Do you see Jesus born in a stable, a cave, or under mid-winter stars?  What did his earthly parents look like?  What kind of plants fed the animals that gathered round?  What did the celebration of their human herders look like?  From what foreign cultures did the wise ones (Magi) come to learn and pay their respects?  We all want to see Jesus – show us the birth of God in human flesh.”

Deadline for submitting original artwork is August 15. Voting will occurSeptember 1 to September 15 with the winner announced on October 1.

A printable PDF of the card with the winning artwork will be made available online to all congregations.  The greeting inside the card will appear in English, Spanish, French, Creole and Navajo.

Submitting images

• Images must be no larger than 256mb for submission.  Final Hi-Res images should be available upon determination of winner.

• Images may be submitted here.

For information about submitting images contact Ana Arias,, or Barry Merer,

For information on the Christmas Card Image Contest, contact Neva Rae Fox

Office of Finance issues updated report on diocesan commitments

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 10:19am

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Office of Finance has issued a mid-year updated report on diocesan commitments.

N. Kurt Barnes, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, announced that all Episcopal dioceses located in the United States and nearly every non-United States diocese have committed to the 2014 budget of The Episcopal Church.

He indicated that
• 42 dioceses have committed to the full 19% asking level adopted by General Convention 2012.

• 39 dioceses are contributing between 10% and 19%.

• Commitments have been received from every diocese except one.

“The commitments from the dioceses for 2014 total $26.8 million,” Barnes said. “The revised budget assumed $25.8 million. We are especially thankful for those dioceses that are able to make commitments at the full 19% asking level established by a vote of the General Convention, and we appreciate those dioceses that are striving to increase their commitments each year.”

A complete list of diocesan commitments appears here.

The 2014 revised budget adopted by Executive Council is here.
Barnes also noted that trust funds, income from which accounts for 25% of the annual budget, continued their exceptional performance.  “Annual returns after all fees and expenses were 15.2%, 16.5% and 7.2% for the one-, five- and 10-years ending March 31, 2014 – ranking within the top quartile of all foundations with assets over $50 million,” he said. “We invite any Episcopal entity to co-invest with the DFMS.” 

Additional information appears here.

Episcopal Church Finance Office

Archbishop begins visit to Central and Southern Africa

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 4:58am

[Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby arrives in Zambia today for a week of visits to fellow primates in the Anglican provinces of Central and Southern Africa.

The visits, which form part of Archbishop Justin’s commitment to visit every primate in the Anglican Communion during his first 18 months in office, will focus on spending time with church leaders and communities and seeing the work of Anglican churches in their local context. He will be accompanied throughout the visits by his wife, Caroline.

Today the Archbishop arrives in the Zambian capital of Lusaka, where he will spend two days as a guest of the Archbishop of Central Africa and Bishop of Northern Zambia, Albert Chama. This evening he will address Anglicans in Lusaka at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Tomorrow Archbishop Justin will travel with Archbishop Albert to Central Zambia, where he will be meet local Christians and preach at Kitwe’s St Michael and All Angels Anglican Cathedral.

On Wednesday the Archbishop will travel to South Africa, where he will be staying with the Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba.

During three days in the country Archbishop Justin will visit Alexandra township outside Johannesburg, where Nelson Mandela lived in 1941. The Archbishop will address the congregation St Michael and All Angels Church, before performing the Walk of Witness to the Mandela First residence in Johannesburg. He will also address the Anglican Ablaze conference in Brynston, and meet with a local Anglican youth group.

For the final leg of the visit, on Friday the Archbishop will travel to Mauritius to stay with the Primate of the Indian Ocean, Archbishop Ian Ernest.

The Archbishop will visit a new Anglican-run hostel for people with mental health issues, the first of its kind in the country. He will also attend 160th anniversary celebrations at St James’ Anglican Cathedral, where he will preach in French at a service to be attended by the President, the Prime Minister, and members of the Chemin Neuf community.

Australia: Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier elected as primate

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 10:25am

[Sydney Anglicans] The Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, has been elected the next primate of the Anglican Church of Australia.

The primatial electors met at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide on June 28, a day before the start of the General Synod.

The post of primate is a ceremonial role, without significant constitutional authority.

After several rounds of voting, there was strong support for both Freier and Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies.

In the final ballot, Freier gained the requisite majority among bishops, clergy and laity.

He succeeds the Archbishop of Brisbane, Phillip Aspinall, who has been primate since 2005.

After the vote, Davies said “The Anglican Church of Australia is united by a common constitution and a common cause to proclaim Christ. I congratulate Archbishop Freier and look forward to working with him as we bring the good news of Jesus to the nation.”

Freier believes that sustaining a national presence and strengthening the church’s contribution to rural communities are among the most important challenges facing the Anglican Church of Australia.

“I look forward to the opportunity of working with the church around the country. The church across its parishes, schools and service agencies makes a powerful contribution to Australian society,” Freier said.

Freier, 59, has been Archbishop of Melbourne since December 2006.

Presiding Bishop preaches at Niobrara

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 8:08am

Niobrara Convocation
29 June 2014
Santee, NE


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

Last weekend I participated in a memorial pilgrimage for St. Alban.  He died about 1800 years ago, as the first martyr in England.  The Romans were hunting down Christians and had heard that Alban was sheltering a priest, who had taught him about Jesus but hadn’t yet baptized him.  When the guards came to his home, Alban traded clothes with the priest, and was taken captive instead.  In a trial a lot like Jesus’, Alban’s captors demanded that he renounce this God he now worshiped by sacrificing to the Roman gods.  He refused, and they put him to death.

It’s made me hear the story of Abraham and Isaac with new ears.  Abraham is asked to give the one thing he most values in the world – his son, the heir he’s been promised, a child of his own flesh, rather than the slave or the son of a concubine whom he’d thought would be his heir.  He is being asked for flesh of his own flesh, as a sign of his faithfulness.  Yet when the time comes God stays his hand, and an animal is provided instead of the boy.  At some point in the history of our ancestors in the faith, they learned that it was far more righteous to offer yourself as a sacrifice, rather than somebody else.  In the ancient world, and in some parts of the world today, children are considered expendable – they can be used by adults for their own purposes.  Abraham’s story tells of the discovery of deeper truth – the lives of others are not ours to spend.

We have only our own lives to give.

Jesus’ offering of his own life is told in parallel with this ancient story of Isaac.  Abraham rides his own donkey to the mountain of sacrifice; Jesus rides a donkey into Jerusalem, going toward the mountain where he will die.  The wood of his sacrifice – the cross – is laid on him to carry.  The instruments of death for Isaac are fire and knife; for Jesus it is the rule of oppressors, with death meted out by guards and soldiers and craven authorities.  Two young men stand at a distance to watch – Abraham’s servants in the first case, Peter and John in the second.  God the father provides a lamb for each sacrifice.  Abraham learns that God will provide.  As he hangs from the cross, Jesus cries out his sense of abandonment, and at the last offers up his spirit.  In resurrection the world discovers that God will always provide new life.

The sun dance has kinship with this sacrifice, as the offering of self becomes healing for the people.  Wood is gathered, a sacred fire kindled, and sacrifice is made by the dancers.  Like Jesus’, this is an offering of self, rather than the offering of another.  It is an outward and visible reminder of our connection to creator and creation.  The ties that bind dancer to the pole link him or her to the creator, as each revolves around the sun.  The dance of offered life in overtly Christian contexts binds us to the son, as we live in conscious, committed relationship to the Lord of the Dance.  The “choir” in both traditions stands by, ready to watch, pray and sing, and care for all the dancers equally.  They/we offer solidarity and demonstrate their connection to those who offer themselves for the sake of greater life.

The prince of peace made that sacrifice once, on behalf of all creation.  We continue that offering in each day and moment by continuing to dance in connection with all that is.  The bonds that bind us are ones of love and decision.  The heat that surrounds our offering comes from passionate love for creator and creatures, and some of the heat comes from the world’s resistance.  We may find that passion for the abundant life of the world in snowstorms or schoolrooms, councils or courtrooms.  That passion is a gift for what the collect calls “unity of spirit.”

Unity of spirit is usually the biggest human challenge.  We want to see ourselves, or our kind or clan or tribe or nation – or color, gender, or particular way of understanding – as the best or most “right” in the world.  We forget that each of us is part of the whole, and that it’s only when we’re connected that we become a living and functional part of the whole.  Sacrifice and offering take us toward that wholeness, and the most central part of offering a sacrifice is realizing that something besides your own self is also holy and worthy of honor.

This gathering is a holy reminder of the wholeness of the Sioux peoples, particularly in the face of relentless heat and pressure from outside this body.  The witness of this gathering is a sacramental reminder of our wholeness in the body of Christ, and in the body of God’s entire creation.  The whole of The Episcopal Church gives thanks for this offering – and so do the people I’ve told about the convocation in recent weeks – Moravians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, members of the Church of England.  Your offering of healing and wholeness is a vital contribution, for there will not be justice, wholeness, and peace here or anywhere until there is everywhere.

Daily encounters invite us to the sacrifice and offering of setting aside the need to be first, or right, or the center of things.  They come to us all.  Occasionally big and public life-committing opportunities come to us as they did for Jesus.  The Santee warriors condemned to death in 1862 are a remarkable example, both those who died slower deaths in prison and the 38 who were executed.[1]  Those who went to the gallows singing God’s praises became a sacrificial and public witness to the oneness of us all.[2]  There are other well-known examples, like the lifelong work of Vine DeLoria, both father and son (and grandfather, the Rev. Philip DeLoria).  There are countless others who offer their lives to raise grandchildren or care for teenagers or build bridges between God’s people.  Terry Star offered his life as such a bridge.

The willingness to keep offering ourselves, in small ways and large, and in every encounter, is what sacrifice is most centrally about.  It’s like saying, ‘I welcome you because I see the image of the creator in you, even if it’s unfamiliar.  I trust that you will show me some aspect of God and the holy that I’ve not seen before, and that in that encounter we will find a greater vision of the wholeness God intends for all.’  It can be as great a challenge to make an offering when we’re surprised or threatened by a stranger as it is to walk to the cross or the gallows.  Yet we are formed for sacrificial living by the small and daily acts the gospel speaks of:  giving a cup of water to a frightened child or an exhausted dancer.  We are formed as offering by sheltering a drunk or challenging an unjust sentence.  We are formed by those ongoing daily decisions to love, so that the whole of our life becomes an offering, a making-holy, and a making whole, of all that is.

This is the way of setting right the creation, the way of justice and righteousness and peace.  When we begin to be formed in that way, we find ourselves willing to give all we are and all we have for the sake of the whole.

Where will you offer yourself for the love of God and all our relatives?


[2] Many and great, O God, are your works…  It’s in the 1982 Hymnal

Bicycle project to boost food security in South Sudan

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 11:59am

[Anglican Communion News Service] An Anglican diocese in South Sudan has sourced and distributed bicycles to local farmers to improve their coordination and help increase productivity to ensure food sustainability in the area.

Christian Action for Relief and Development (CARD), the development wing of Wau diocese in the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan (ECS), sourced the 38 new bicycles and distributed them to various farming groups in different locations of the diocese.

The Rev. Peter Angui Akook is the diocesan development officer and acting administrative secretary in Wau diocese. In an interview with ACNS, he said, “We decided to embark on the bicycles project so that our lead farmers are able to make follow ups with their fellow farmers and also help them take their produce to market. We have since distributed the bicycles to the lead farmers. We called their top leaders to come to the office to collect the bicycles on behalf of the group and emphasized that the bicycles belong to the groups.”

The bicycles were purchased at a total cost of about 23,000 South Sudanese Pounds (US$7000) with funding from a European Union project. “The bicycles will also allow easy movement when attending workshops to keep farmers updated on good agricultural techniques and practices,” said Akook.

He added: “The leaders were given instructions on how these bicycles should be handled and used so that they are used correctly with minimal wear. It is important to understand that many of these farmers will not have had a bicycle before so this instruction is very necessary.”

The development coordinator said that the procurement of the bicycles from East African countries took a long period of time to ensure that they were best suited to local needs and easy to maintain in good condition.

“Our bigger plans are to extend food security projects to the other counties of Western Bahr el Ghazal state and Warrap State’s six counties. The other plan is to open up health centers in the two States. We aim to provide social services especially basic needs to our people.”

Food security is one of the biggest challenges, which the country faces since the conflict erupted in December last year. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) fear that the “consequences of the conflict threaten to reverse the country’s progress towards food security, and are likely to impact even parts of South Sudan not directly affected by fighting.”

VTS conference concludes with ‘The Dodoma Statement 2014′

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 10:01am
[Virginia Theological Seminary press release - Dodoma, Tanzania] The Center for Anglican Communion Studies (CACS), Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) concluded the 2014 Christian-Muslim Conference in Dodoma, Tanzania, June 26 with the presentation of a statement of intent. The Dodoma Statement 2014 begins: “We are Muslim and Christian faith leaders, scholars, inter-religious workers and peace-builders. Together as descendants of Abraham we believe in one creator God who has called us to be caretakers of creation, to work for the common good and to promote and practice peace.”

The culmination of the three day conference, which brought together over 60 Christian and Muslim faith leaders from Southern and East Africa, the Dodoma Statement 2014 is a historic affirmation of the shared humanity between those who resolve to promote peace and strengthen their commitment to reconciliation.

CACS Director, Dr. Robert Heaney comments, “I have been struck by the incredible wisdom, experience and expertise present at this conference. We must continue to connect and learn from World Anglicanism and the neighbors of Anglicans throughout the world. We have much to learn from our brothers and sisters living as believers in religiously, culturally, historically and linguistically pluralist contexts.”

Co-hosted with Msalato Theological College, conference participants were welcomed on the first day by Archbishop Jacob Chimeledya (VTS ‘03), Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Tanzania, and Sheikh Mustapha, Regional Sheikh of the Dodoma Region, who were both enthusiastic about the potential of this gathering to achieve mutual respect and unconditional compassion between the faiths.

“It is my wish that this conference becomes a vehicle for us, as religious leaders, to lead us to a deeper understanding of one another,” said Archbishop Chimeledya. “So that as we leave here, we can share the truth with our fellow believers.”

Sheikh Mustapha added: “God made humankind so that we may know one another, instead of despising one another.”

Created in 1998, The Center for Anglican Communion Studies at VTS, seeks to bring community to the Anglican Communion through resourcing congregational community, academic community and cross-cultural community. The Dodoma Statement 2014 is the first such statement issued by Virginia Theological Seminary.

Click here to read the full Dodoma Statement 2014.

EPF urges US to stay out of the developing religious civil war in Iraq

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 9:43am

[Episcopal Peace Fellowship press release] The Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) urges President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to refrain from any military involvement in the religious civil war developing in Iraq.

“Over two decades of war in Iraq has provided ample evidence war as a means to leverage influence in the area is a morally bankrupt policy to peace,” said the Rev. Allison Liles, EPF executive director.

“The cost of almost 4,500 U.S. military deaths, thousands of wounded and maimed veterans and $1 trillion of national wealth that surely could have been more productively spent – in addition to the hundreds of thousands Iraqi deaths and those of other involved nations – as well as those whose lives have been tragically traumatized and disrupted is sufficient to say enough,” said Rev. Liles.

“The political situation in Iraq is quickly deteriorating into a civil war between two Muslim factions. The insurgents are moving towards Baghdad in a vicious lightning campaign that has sadly seen early mass defections from Iraqi army. The recognized government of Iraq is calling for American lethal involvement to stem the potential overthrow of its current regime. It is clear that the conduct of the Al-Maliki government is a significant part of the problem,” she said.

In response to the call for help, President Obama has sent a force up to 300 American military advisors to be embedded with Iraqi troops to assist them to repel the insurgents. U.S. airstrikes may be forthcoming.

“Iraq is a sovereign nation that must solve its own internal political affairs without the intervention of any outside entity. To reengage the U.S. military in any capacity is foolhardy. While recognizing the danger to human rights and respectful and peaceful civic dialogue embedded in a fundamentalist Sharia-imposed governing structure, war is not the answer to real peace. Further military action could have long term negative effects on America’s already frayed relationships with other Middle Eastern countries,” said Rev. Liles.

“We hope and pray Secretary of State John Kerry who has been increasingly in Iraq can negotiate a peaceful settlement to the war. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power should urge the UN Security Council to garner multi-national help in securing a negotiated settlement as well,” said Rev. Liles.

Grupo de Trabajo sobre el Estudio del Matrimonio publica pautas de estudio, recursos de debate

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 2:04pm

[24 de junio de  2014] El grupo de trabajo de la Iglesia Episcopal sobre el Estudio del Matrimonio ha publicado Querido Amado, recursos para conversación y debate.

El siguiente es un informe del Grupo de Trabajo sobre el Estudio del Matrimonio.

Querido Amado: Un paquete con pautas para el estudio y debate sobre el Matrimonio

Nos complace ofrecer a la Iglesia Episcopal  un recurso para el estudio y debate sobre el matrimonio. Ha llegado su hora. Ya que este tema es de importancia histórica y de significado intemporal para la iglesia; las prácticas de matrimonio están experimentando un cambio social en nuestros días; y nuestra iglesia, a través de la resolución A050 en la Convención General del 2012, solicitó que desarrollemos herramientas para el debate sobre este tema.

Entramos en esta conversación – como siempre lo hacemos cuando discernimos el camino a seguir – al considerar esas tres fuentes de autoridad anglicana sobre el tema: la escritura, la tradición (incluyendo la teología, liturgia, derecho canónico, e historia), y la razón (incluyendo nuestra experiencia humana).

Nuestro equipo de trabajo está formado por 12 personas designadas: obispos, teólogos, educadores y pastores. A medida que el grupo de trabajo se encarga de la provisión de recursos para esta reflexión, nosotros hemos explorado profundamente el matrimonio a través del lente de las Escrituras, la tradición y la razón. Hemos estudiado y hemos consultado ampliamente.

Si bien no vamos a completar este trabajo hasta que hagamos nuestro informe a la Convención General del 2015, estamos en condiciones, en este momento, de compartir con la iglesia un poco de nuestros esfuerzos hasta la fecha. Y lo más importante, estamos dispuestos a invitar a la iglesia en el debate a nivel local.

Nuestra esperanza es que muchos aprovechen de este momento de nuestra historia para ser parte de discernir el camino a seguir. En nuestros días, ¿qué nos llama Dios a comprender, a decir, y tal vez hacer en lo que respecta al matrimonio?

Sólo podemos responder a esta pregunta si más de 12 personas participan. Obtener una amplia participación ayudará a los diputados y obispos – representantes de todos nosotros – en la Convención General del 2015, cuando ellos reciban nuestro informe y consideren las posibles respuestas al llamado de nuestra iglesia para profundizar esta conversación.

El recurso puede ser utilizado en una variedad de escenarios,  y consta de tres formatos diferentes, que pueden utilizarse de forma independiente el uno del otro: un evento de 90-minutos (que se puede dividir en tres sesiones de 35-minutos); una variedad de foros de 45 minutos; y un extenso artículo de un grupo de estudio. Todos los tres formatos cubren la teología, la historia, la escritura, las tendencias actuales, y más, con las pautas para la presentación y preguntas para el debate en grupo.

El paquete “Querido Amado” se encuentra aquí

El PowerPoint para el recurso de  “Continuar Conversaciones” se encuentra aquí

Obtenga acceso aquí a la página web completa para el Grupo de Trabajo sobre el matrimonio de la Convención General A050 .


Grupo de Trabajo de la Iglesia Episcopal en el Estudio del Matrimonio está autorizado por la Resolución A050 de la Convención General del 2012.

La Resolución A050 completa está disponible aquí.

Página de Grupo de Trabajo en Facebook:

Grupo de Trabajo en YouTube:

Ofrenda Unida de Acción de Gracias proporciona subvención especial por aniversario

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 2:01pm

[[23 de junio de 2014] La Ofrenda Unida de Acción de Gracias de la Iglesia Episcopal proporcionando subvenciones “fondos iniciativos” especiales de $ 12.500 a un obispo en cada una de las nueve provincias de la Iglesia y a la Obispa Presidente, por un total de $ 125.000.

Parte de la celebración del 125 aniversario de la Ofrenda Unida de Gracias, son estas extraordinarias subvenciones especiales por el  aniversario que están destinadas a ser utilizadas para un proyecto en cada provincia que reflejará la Cuarta Marca de la Misión Anglicana: Procurar la transformación de las estructuras sociales injustas; retar todo tipo de violencia y buscar la paz y reconciliación.

Este proyecto debe ser completado el 1 de mayo de 2015.  Las subvenciones que se seleccionan se expondrán en la 78 ª Convención General en Salt Lake City, UT en Junio / julio del 2015.

Las solicitudes están disponibles ahora; la fecha límite para inscribirse es el 1 de agosto Las solicitudes están disponibles aquí

Para obtener más información comuníquese con la Rda. Heather Melton, coordinadora de la Ofrenda Unida de Acción de Gracias,

Conocido mundialmente como UTO, las subvenciones de la Ofrenda Unida de Acción de Gracias son otorgadas para proyectos que aborden las necesidades humanas y ayuden a aliviar la pobreza, tanto a nivel nacional como internacional.


Presiding Bishop receives honorary degree from Oxford University

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 11:36am

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Oxford University on June 25.

[Adapted from an Oxford University press release] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was among five prominent figures from the worlds of science, the arts and religion to receive honorary degrees from the University of Oxford on June 25.

Jefferts Schori, who received the Degree of Doctor of Divinity, said: “[Oxford] is a place where the life of the mind is honored, where creative thought and connection-making is the primary task of the human being: critical thinking, creative and artistic and beautiful thinking is a way of searching for truth.”

The degrees were awarded at Encaenia, the University’s annual honorary degree ceremony. Lord Christopher Patten, chancellor of the University of Oxford, handed the honorands their degrees in the Sheldonian Theatre before lunch was held in The Codrington Library at All Souls College.

Sir Anish Kapoor, one of Britain’s foremost sculptors, and Robert Silvers, founding editor of the New York Review of Books, received Degrees of Doctor of Letters.

Professor Jean-Marie Lehn, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1987 for his pioneering studies on the chemical basis of molecular recognition, received the Degree of Doctor of Science.

Sir Harrison Birtwistle, a leading British composer, received the Degree of Doctor of Music.

Kapoor said: ‘It’s a wonderful thing. I’m thrilled. Oxford is one of the great universities, and I’m thrilled to be part of it. My daughter’s at university here, so that makes it a doubly wonderful thing. [She couldn't attend the ceremony because] she has exams, alas!

‘‘[Oxford] is a wonder. It somehow remains properly alive, because it has such a big student body. Education in great spaces – what more could one ask for?’

Lehn said: ‘When you’re an academic, university is the place in which knowledge and education is being gained and transferred. Among those places, there are some very special ones. Oxford is among those very special ones. So it’s a great pleasure and an honor to be here today.’


#Episcopal ‘Social Media Sunday’ a digital invitation

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 7:45am

[Episcopal News Service] While in church this Sunday, get out your smart phone.

Facebook a selfie, live-tweet a prayer, blog an idea, video the hymn-singing, Instagram photos, Pinterest fun images, Foursquare a location — and use #Episcopal — so “Social Media Sunday” goes viral.

Social Media Sunday is an invitation to Episcopalians to share faith in the digital universe, according to Carolyn Clement and Laura Catalano, church social media administrators, who came up with the idea.

“It’s a way of saying this is what’s going on in my church. We’re just interested in making connections on Sunday,” according to Catalano, 35, who volunteers at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

“It’s just to get people and families comfortable with social media and to talk about the ways you can use it,” Catalano told ENS during a telephone interview from her suburban St. Louis home. “If everyone uses #Episcopal, we’ll be able to find each other and see each other” on the various social media sites, she added.

“People can take a selfie, or a picture of stained glass in their church or something fun going on and post them on Facebook, or Twitter. It’s a neat way to get an idea of what’s happening across the church.”

Clement said the idea “has gotten a lot of buzz. People from Alaska to Florida and California to everyplace in between as well as Canadians are saying they’ll be posting on Facebook or Instagram that day.”

Even the date is significant, because June 29 is typically the day the church commemorates the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, “great apostles and evangelists so we thought it was an appropriate time to evangelize in this way.”

Barry Merer, Episcopal Church manager of web and social media, applauded the effort.

“It’s about people engaging with their church,” Merer told ENS on June 25. “I’m excited that members of churches are finding new ways to engage with their faith. It’s a great idea because church happens at the grass roots, so … let it happen.”

Clement said she first held a Social Media Sunday at Trinity Church in Tariffville, Connecticut, last year.

She offered instructions to the congregation at the start of the service.

“People were tweeting, taking pictures that day, posting them on Facebook and overall, it was a great experience,” she recalled. “Not only did they share images and comments and thoughts from our church that morning with the thousands of aggregate followers and friends and contacts they had on social media, they also found each other.”

Afterwards, “we invited people to bring their devices and we did a help desk, answering their questions about getting set up, how to use and understand social media a little better, helping families learn more about how to keep kids safe online.”

Catalano and Clement met on #Chsocm (pronounced ch-sock-em), a weekly ecumenical Twitter chat on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST about church social media. Catalano liked Clement’s idea of a Social Media Sunday and organized a similar event at St. Timothy’s.

Citing their own digital friendship, they hope to create similar connections and relationships throughout the church. “Laura and I are friends from social media but we’ve never met in real life,” Clement said. “But even though we haven’t met in person, I feel like digital life is real life.

“We bounce ideas off each other a lot,” she added. “We both volunteer; we both manage social media for our churches. We both rose organically in our parishes to do this work. It’s something we were independently called to, as a personal mission, to do social media, evangelism or social media mission, you might want to call it.

“And we just wanted to invite the whole Episcopal Church to have a Social Media Sunday to connect with each other, to share something about church, about faith, and so we said, why not?”

They began tweeting about it and inviting followers, created a Facebook event and “found every Episcopal national organization we could and posted on their Facebook walls and invited them.”

Besides being a fun day, Social Media Sunday “hopefully, will give us some kind of information about how many Episcopalians are out there, actively using social media to share their faith. It’ll be interesting to see,” Clement said.

Meanwhile, she added: “We just want to see #episcopal go viral on June 29.”

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

Western Massachusetts: ‘Casino vote is good news for the poor’

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 6:33am

[Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts press release] The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling to allow the casino issue to have a place on the November ballot is good news for the poor. We, as Church, see the great need of the city of Springfield and acknowledge the good intentions of elected officials who see casino gaming as a benefit to people who struggle in this economy. The real temptation of casino gaming is that it is “easy money” – for the Commonwealth, for a city or for its residents – when study after study indicates that this is an illusion – that the most vulnerable in the community will be adversely impacted in the long run. We believe the city of Springfield and all the cities in the Commonwealth deserve better. We offer no alternative idea as it is the task of those duly elected to surface the best options for the growth of our community, but we applaud the city of Holyoke and its 20-year, $128 million dollar plan to invest in the revitalization of downtown neighborhoods. The plan to create beauty, recreational space and a home for the arts and the artisans of Holyoke is a wonderful example of what can be when a community chooses to bless itself – to take a road that may not be easy, but one that yields permanent prosperity and builds up the community.

Upon hearing news of the court’s decision, Bishop Doug Fisher responded from a conference in Rosslyn, VA. “From the beginning this struggle has been described as ‘David vs Goliath’. The Goliath that is the casino industry, plowing through our cities as economic vacuum cleaners and bringing social destruction, especially for the poor. Goliath has been fed by those who say ‘yes to casinos, but not in my neighborhood.’ David is a growing group of underfunded people who have more hope than that for our Commonwealth and our cities. Thanks to the court ruling, we are now at the point of the story where David has his slingshot, has gathered his stones from the river, and is now running at Goliath.”

Jesus came to bring good news to the poor. Casinos are bad news for the poor. We follow Jesus. We invite those of our blessed diversity of faith traditions, and those with no religious faith, to vote for the common good – a common good that includes the most economically vulnerable among us.

Eight new deacons ordained at Houston cathedral service

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 6:27am

On June 21, the Rt. Rev. Dena Harrison, bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Texas, ordained eight new deacons: Sharron Leslie Cox, Elizabeth Ruth Dowell, Keith Frederick Giblin, Eric André Cole Holloway, Kellaura Beth Johnson, Paulette Williams Magnuson, Eileen Elizabeth O’Brien and Terry Lee Pierce.

The service was held at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Houston. For a photo gallery visit the diocesan Facebook page.

Pittsburgh Bishop McConnell reflects on the lessons of faith in illness

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 6:23am

[Diocese of Pittsburgh] Bishop Dorsey McConnell of the Diocese of Pittsburgh has released a video reflection on the lessons of faith contained in the new hit movie, “The Fault in Our Stars.”

The film is based on the popular novel by John Green, who often speaks of how his own life and ministry as an Episcopalian influenced his writing this story about two young cancer patients. In his video, McConnell speaks of meeting Christ in those who suffer. Recalling his own bout with illness years ago, the bishop dons a hospital gown and says, “In the end, underneath all our fancy clothes, our masks, our daily situations, we all look like this. We are all waiting for healing.”

The Pittsburgh diocese has several ties to the movie. The producers chose St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon to film scenes where the main characters initially meet in a support group and where they return later in the film. A cast member in that support group is Alexander Murph, a teenage cancer patient and member of St. Thomas Memorial Church, Oakmont. His father and St. Thomas rector, the Rev. Jeffrey Murph, also appears as an unidentified extra. Murph told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that church-centered care for those who suffer rang true in his own family’s situation, “because the church really did support us. I don’t know how people manage without that kind of support.”

Bishop McConnell’s video is posted on the diocesan website and on YouTube.

Clay Lein named as rector of St. John the Divine, Houston

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 6:12am

[Episcopal Diocese of Texas] The Rev. Dr. Clay Lein has accepted the call as the fifth rector of St. John the Divine, Houston, according to a statement released by their search committee this week. Lein is the founding rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Frisco, Texas, where he has grown the congregation to more than 1400 members since 2002. His first Sunday at St. John the Divine will be November 23, 2014.

“It has become clear to us that God has laid a strong foundation of faith [at St. John the Divine] and that [the congregation] is poised for a real movement of God’s spirit,” Lein said. “I believe that the best really is yet to be, and I’m grateful that Jill and I get to be part of it.”

Lein previously served as executive pastor at Christ Episcopal Church in Plano, Texas and associate pastor at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Trinity School for Ministry and recently completed his Doctor of Ministry at Gordon-Conwell in Charlotte, North Carolina.  He also received a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri and an MBA from Arizona State University.  Prior to his ordination, Lein was a product-marketing engineer with Intel Corporation. He is the author of Ordinary Faith, published in 2008, about “finding real faith in ordinary life.” Clay and his wife, Jill, have three grown children: Jennifer, John and Joshua.

“We believe that we have called the priest that God has anointed to lead SJD into the next phase of our life together,” wrote the search committee in a letter to the congregation.

St. John the Divine is a congregation of 4000 active members in Houston’s River Oaks neighborhood. The Rev. Larry Hall retired in April after more than 32 years as rector. See video of Lein’s greeting to St. John the Divine below:


Thu, 06/26/2014 - 5:48am

La Ofrenda Unida de Acción de Gracias de la Iglesia Episcopal en Estados Unidos ha donado $51,759 (dólares) para las obras de construcción del Campamento Blankingship. Esta obra que ha tenido que esperar más de 50 años ha sufrido toda clase de demoras. El terreno del campamento está cerca de la antigua ciudad de Santa Clara en la parte central de la isla y es un tributo al ministerio y visión del obispo Alexander Hugo Blankingship que fue obispo de Cuba desde 1939 hasta 1961. El obispo falleció en 1975 en su natal Virginia.

Justin Welby, arzobispo de Cantórbery ha visitado al papa Francisco en Roma. Esta es su segunda visita en los últimos 18 meses. Ambos líderes están empeñados en acabar con laesclavitud moderna y el tráfico humano que afecta a millones de personas. Por otra parte, Francisco enfatizó que la libertad religiosa es fundamental para la vida del mundo. Añadió que la encíclica Dignitatis humanae del Concilio Vaticano II habla sobre el tema.

Todas las predicciones de violencia y malestar pronosticadas para la celebración de los juegos de la Copa Mundial fallaron. Los juegos se están celebrando con llenos totales y gran camaradería entre los miles de visitantes. Un ejemplo y una meta para nuestros políticos: “Se puede ser adversarios sin ser enemigos”. Un jugador auxiliando a otro del equipo contrario es un ejemplo que será recordado por muchos años.

María Corina Machado, líder opositora al gobierno de Nicolás Maduro de Venezuela, sigue en pie de lucha pese a las amenazas físicas y verbales del oficialismo y la posibilidad de que vaya a la cárcel y no pueda salir del país. El gobierno la acusa de ser la instigadora de las recientes protestas estudiantiles que comenzaron en febrero y que le han costado la vida a 43 jóvenes. El 24 de junio la policía reprimió una manifestación en Valencia, estado Carabobo, con un saldo de 24 heridos. Según informes de prensa María Corina tiene dos millones de seguidores en Twitter. “Estoy convencida de que triunfaremos”, dijo recientemente.

Tras ganar el concurso The Voice Italia, en sus primeras declaraciones a la prensa, Sor Cristina Scuccia, la popular monja cantante de 25 años de edad,afirmó que ahora “vuelvo a mis prioridades que son Jesús y la oración”.

Algunos observadores de la escena política de Washington dicen que la legislación sobre la reforma integral de la inmigración “está muerta” mientras que el legislador Luis Gutiérrez del estado de Illinois, asegura que el tema es tan importante para la vida de la nación queseguirá adelante “pese a sus detractores”.

Acaba de salir a la venta la novela Tiempo de Canallas del escritor y periodista cubano Carlos Alberto Montaner. El autor recoge pasajes ocultos de la Guerra Fría en una tumultuosa relación de amor. Según el periódico Diario Las Américas “además de amor e intrigas hay lecciones de historia” hasta ahora desconocidas.

La concentración de niños de Guatemala, Honduras y El Salvador, sin documentos, en la frontera sur de Estados Unidos se ha convertido en una tragedia humanitaria. Ya el número de niños pasa de los 100,000 a pesar de que el gobierno norteamericano ha dicho que esos niños serán admitidos temporalmente pero que más tarde serán enviados a sus lugares de origen. Varias organizaciones cristianas han respondido con alimentos ropas y calor humano. El gobierno ha alojado a muchos niños en una base naval y se espera que su permanencia allí sea entre 90 y 120 días. “Nuestra fe nos llama con urgencia”, dice el pastor de una iglesia.

El Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Chaco, Argentina, resolvió rechazar recursos contra una sentencia de segunda instancia, el derecho a la propiedad comunitaria indígena. Con este nuevo fallo el tribunal volvió a garantizar la plena vigencia del derecho de los pueblos indígenas a la propiedad comunitaria de sus territorios.

Líderes religiosos en Los Ángeles se ha reunido recientemente para orar por la paz en el Medio Oriente siguiendo el ejemplo del papa Francisco. El párroco de la Iglesia de Santa Cruz en el sur de Los Ángeles les recordó a todos los presentes que “la tierra es una y todos los hijos de Abraham judíos, cristianos y musulmanes que oramos juntos somos hermanos e hijos de un mismo Dios”.

Un sínodo de la Iglesia Anglicana en Japón decidió “condenar fuertemente” cualquiermanifestación de racismo y decidió erradicar “crímenes de odio, discursos ofensivos y luchar por una sociedad verdaderamente multicultural”. El sínodo decidió criticar los poderes del Estado por no aprobar legislación adecuada para hacerle frente a esos problemas.

MANDAMIENTO- “Amaos los unos a los otros”.

Marriage task force releases study guide, discussion resources

Wed, 06/25/2014 - 2:49pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The Episcopal Church Task Force on the Study of Marriage has released Dearly Beloved, resources for conversation and discussion.

The following is a report From the Task Force on the Study of Marriage.

We are pleased to offer to The Episcopal Church a resource for study and discussion about marriage. This topic is of historic and timeless significance for the church; practices of marriage are undergoing social change in our own day; and our church, acting through resolution A050 at General Convention in 2012, asked that we develop tools for discussion on this subject.

We enter this conversation – as we always do when discerning our way forward – by considering those three sources of Anglican authority on the subject: scripture, tradition (including theology, liturgy, canon law, and history), and reason (including our human experience).

We are 12 appointees: bishops, theologians, educators, and pastors. As the Task Force that was charged with providing resources for this reflection, we have deeply explored marriage through the lenses of scripture, tradition, and reason. We continue to study and we continue to consult as Resolution 2012-A050 directs.

While we will not complete this work until we make our Blue Book report to General Convention 2015, we are able, at this time, to share with the church a bit of our efforts to date. And more importantly, we are eager to invite the church into discussion at the local level.

Our hope is that many will take advantage of this moment in our history to be a part of discerning our way forward. In our day, what is God calling us to understand, to say, and perhaps to do in regards to marriage?

We can only answer this question if far more than 12 people get involved. Broad discussion will assist those deputies and bishops – representatives of us all – at General Convention 2015, when they receive our report and consider possible responses to our church’s call to deepen this conversation.

The resource may be used in a variety of settings, and it consists of three different formats, which may be used independently of each other: a 90-minute event (which can be divided into three 35-minute sessions); a variety of 45-minute forums; and a lengthy article for a study group. All three formats cover theology, history, scripture, current trends, and more, with guidelines for presentation and questions for group discussion.

The Tool-Kit “Dearly Beloved”  here

The PowerPoint for the “Carry-On Conversations” resource here

Access the complete public website for General Convention’s A050 Task Force on Marriage here. 

Task Force Facebook page here

The Episcopal Church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage is enabled by Resolution A050 at the 2012 General Convention.

Resolution A050 is available in full here.

Virginia: Lindsay Ryland to retire as director of transition ministry

Wed, 06/25/2014 - 8:33am

[Diocese of Virginia] Lindsay Ryland, director of transition ministry, has announced plans to retire in September 2014, after 13 years of service on diocesan staff.

Lindsay joined the staff in 2001 to serve as assistant for deployment, and became the diocesan deployment officer in 2003. She has worked with parishes in search of clergy as well as clergy in search of new ministries.

Lindsay is a member of Immanuel, Old Church, in Hanover County. Her ministry in the wider Church includes serving as a member of the Transition Ministry Conference executive committee and the Board for Transition Ministry, and as a CREDO faculty member. She is a volunteer reader at the Virginia Voice in Richmond and has served as president of the Hanover County Historical Society, as well as in a number of positions with the Mary Baldwin College Alumnae Association. Prior to joining diocesan staff, she served as a senior vice president at Bank of America.

“In her years on staff, Lindsay has built a reputation – both in Virginia and across the Episcopal Church – for excellence in ministry,” said Bishop Johnston. “She has been a pastoral and professional presence for hundreds of clergy and scores of congregations in times of transition. I am most grateful for her unique combination of passion, dedication, knowledge and skill. She has been not only a most valued colleague, but also a good friend.”

Parishes who are currently involved in search processes can be assured that they will continue to receive support from the bishop’s office as they continue their discernment in calling new clergy. The Bishop will soon start a search for a new staff member to work in the transition ministry field.