Episcopal News Service

Subscribe to Episcopal News Service feed
The official news service of the Episcopal Church.
Updated: 1 hour 51 min ago

Diocese of Colorado drops candidate from bishop search process

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 6:51pm

[Diocese of Colorado] The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Colorado on Sept. 6 released the following letter regarding the search process for the diocese’s next bishop diocesan.

Dear People of God in The Episcopal Church in Colorado:

In the last several days, we have received reports of serious personal, professional, and vocational issues involving The Reverend Canon Michael Pipkin. Because we recognize that these complaints are serious, and because they cannot be resolved prior to our October 27 election, the Standing Committee voted unanimously on August 29 to remove him from consideration in the upcoming election for the 11th Bishop of Colorado.

As these changes in our discernment and election process have unfolded, we have been in close communication with Canon Pipkin’s bishop as well as with Bishop Todd Ousley, who works for the Presiding Bishop and provides oversight and guidance for all episcopal elections. These allegations have been referred to them for further action under the provision of The Episcopal Church’s canons.

Further, we have decided unanimously to proceed with our election with two nominees on the slate–The Reverend Kimberly D. Lucas and The Reverend Canon Ruth Woodliff-Stanley. Both nominees have reaffirmed their enthusiastic desire to continue with us as we seek our next bishop.

We remain deeply grateful for the faithful, careful, and thorough work previously undertaken by the Search Committee on our behalf. We have informed its members of the basis for the recent decisions that have been made, and they have unanimously expressed their unqualified support. Both they and we are confident that the two faithful, talented priests now on the slate possess the gifts to provide strong episcopal leadership to serve God’s mission with us here in Colorado.

We know that some of you may have questions about this news.

While it is unusual for a diocese to elect a bishop from a slate of two nominees, it is not without precedent. In our case, the Standing Committee charged the Search Committee last January to present a slate of four nominees to the people of the diocese. The initial slate included three priests because one of the four final candidates decided to stand for election as bishop in another diocese.

With two nominees now on the slate, we trust that the strength of our common life, our commitment to serving God’s mission, and the work of the Holy Spirit are leading us forward even in the midst of these unexpected changes. On October 27, we will elect a bishop who will work faithfully with us in creating a vision for our future as the Body of Christ.

When the Standing Committee first met last November to pray about and to reflect upon the election of a new bishop, we identified a passage from Jeremiah that we thought would serve us well during this transition: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

We are continuing now with the same confidence and trust in God’s grace. Thank you for your continued prayer for the election of our new bishop.

Faithfully,

Mr. Robert Morse
President of the Standing Committee
The Episcopal Church in Colorado

Mr. Bob Morse, President
Front Range Lay Representative
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Boulder

The Reverend Terry McGugan, Vice President
High Plains Clergy Representative
Christ Church, Denver

Mr. Jim Wolfe, Secretary
High Plains Lay Representative
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Centennial

The Reverend Charlie Brumbaugh
Northwest Clergy Representative
St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, Breckenridge

The Reverend Peter Floyd
Sangre de Cristo Clergy Representative
St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Colorado Springs

Ms. Jan Johnson
Northwest Lay Representative
St. Peter’s of the Valley Episcopal Church, Basalt

The Reverend Nature Johnston
Southwest Clergy Representative
The Church of the Nativity, Grand Junction

The Reverend Michael McManus
Front Range Clergy Representative
Church of the Transfiguration, Evergreen

Ms. Erin Smith
Southwest Lay Representative
St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church, Alamosa

Mr. Harry Tournay
Sangre de Cristo Lay Representative
Church of the Ascension & Holy Trinity, Pueblo

Anglican Consultative Council’s Standing Committee gets update on 2020 Lambeth Conference

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 12:13pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] “Progress continues to be positive and financially we are on track” – that was the message from the Chief Executive of the Lambeth Conference Company Phil George to members of the Anglican Consultative Council’s Standing Committee as he briefed them on plans for the gathering of Anglican bishops from around the world in 2020.

“The first year of LC2020 planning is complete,” he said. “In many ways we are ahead of schedule and well positioned for the planning and preparations of the next two years.”

Read the full article here.

Archbishop of Canterbury calls for ‘fundamental reform’ of Britain’s economy

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 4:49pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A report co-authored by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says that Britain’s economy “is not working for millions of people and needs fundamental reform.” The report argues that “a fair economy is a strong economy” and says that “prosperity and justice can, and must, go hand-in-hand.” The report includes a 10-part plan for “a new vision of the economy and a rebalancing of economic power” and more than 70 recommendations.

Read the full article here.

Changes will give more voice to smaller provinces at Anglican Consultative Council

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 4:47pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Members of the Anglican Consultative Council’s Standing Committee have adopted changes to the membership schedule to increase representative from smaller provinces. Currently, larger provinces are entitled to three members, medium-sized provinces are entitled to two members; and smaller provinces are entitled to one member. The medium and smaller category will be combined with both entitled to two members: one ordained and one lay.

Read the full article here.

Anglican Communion Standing Committee backs new Chilean province

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 4:43pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Diocese of Chile, which is currently part of the Province of the Anglican Church of South America, should become a Province in its own right, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) has decided. Before the change can be made formally, the ACC’s constitution requires the assent of two thirds of Anglican Primates.

Read the full article here.

Secretary general condemns ‘falsehoods’ about Anglican Communion

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 2:39pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, has strongly condemned people who “militantly present falsehoods” about the Communion, despite knowing that what they are saying is untrue. Idowu-Fearon made his comments as he gave his annual report to the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, at the start of their four-day meeting in London.

Read the full article here.

Episcopal Church of South Sudan’s national youth coordinator killed in gun attack

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 2:34pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The national youth coordinator for the Episcopal Church of South Sudan has died after being shot while traveling to Yei. Thousands of young people gathered at the house of Joseph Kiri on Sept. 3 to pay their respects for the youth worker and evangelist, who was killed just days after the Archbishop Justin Badi Arama said more needed to be done to turn a peace deal on paper into peace on the ground.

Read the full article here.

La conferencia Nuevo Amanecer celebra la diversidad del ministerio latino

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 7:39am

Un grupo de participantes juntan las manos en oración durante uno de los cultos en Nuevo Amanecer. Foto Millard Cook.

[Episcopal News Service – Hendersonville, Carolina del Norte] Esta semana, cerca de 400 personas se reunieron del 27 al 30 de agosto en el Centro de Conferencias y Retiro de Kanuga para participar en Nuevo Amanecer, una conferencia [o foro] bienal que apoya al ministerio latino en la Iglesia.

El tema de la conferencia de este año fue “Construimos, Equipamos, Inspiramos” . Muchos participantes hicieron un gran esfuerzo y viajaron largas distancias para asistir. Este año, por primera vez, la conferencia incluyó una amplia representación de la IX Provincia, con personas provenientes de América Central y del Sur.

El Rdo. Bladimir Pedraza fue uno de los cinco participantes que hizo el viaje a Carolina del Norte desde Colombia. Él se enteró de Nuevo Amanecer en la conferencia La Evangelización es Importante [Evangelism Matters] en marzo [de este año] en Ohio, y se quedó encantado cuando su obispo lo invitó a participar en Nuevo Amanecer. Él agradece esta oportunidad de reflexionar y compartir con personas de otras culturas.

“Ha sido una experiencia maravillosa”, dijo Pedraza. “Es un recordatorio de que todos somos iguales en la Iglesia, y que todos tenemos el mismo amor”.

El primer Nuevo Amanecer tuvo lugar en Los Ángeles en 2002, y pasaron seis años antes de que se volviera a ofrecer, en Atlanta. En 2010, la conferencia encontró un hogar en Kanuga, donde ahora se celebra cada dos años. La organiza la Oficina del Ministerio Latino/Hispano en asociación con Kanuga, y la conferencia de este año recibió un respaldo adicional de la Fundación de la Iglesia Episcopal y del Movimiento Adelante [Forward Movement].

Casi 400 personas se reunieron en Kanuga para Nuevo Amanecer, una conferencia bienal que celebra y apoya el ministerio latino en la Iglesia Episcopal. Foto del Rdo. Edgar Giraldo Orozco.

El Rdo. Anthony Guillén, misionero para el Ministerio Latino/Hispano y director de Ministerios Étnicos en la Iglesia Episcopal, dijo que desde el principio,  el énfasis de Nuevo Amanecer ha sido la formación y la fraternidad. Cuando empezó en su cargo, muchas personas que participaban en el Ministerio Hispano se sentían muy aisladas entre sí, y Nuevo Amanecer les brindó la oportunidad de aprender en comunidad.

Él señaló que la mayoría de los participantes son laicos. “¿Por qué vienen a una conferencia de ministerio?”, se preguntó. “Vienen porque quieren aprender y prepararse. Reconocen que tienen dones y anhelan ser evangelistas y líderes en esta Iglesia”.

Guillén explicó: “Nuestra visión es crear un lugar donde las personas puedan reunirse, lo mismo si son principiantes y están empezando a entender el ministerio latino, o si ya han estado asistiendo a la iglesia durante varios años y han oído el llamado de Dios a hacer más, o si ya están en el liderazgo y buscan más preparación”.

La conferencia de este año contó con tres oradores principales: el Rvdmo. Daniel Gutiérrez, obispo de la Diócesis de Pensilvania; el Rvdmo. Rafael Morales, obispo de la Diócesis de Puerto Rico; y la Rda. Stephanie Spellers, canóniga del Obispo Primado para la evangelización, la reconciliación y la mayordomía de la creación. Cada uno de los oradores abordó una parte del tema general de la conferencia.

Gutiérrez reflexionó sobre el tema de edificar la Iglesia. Él procuró corregir un lenguaje negativo, al explicar. “Para los latinos y para todas las personas de color, nosotros no somos un programa social, Somos la Iglesia”.

Instó a los participantes a ser audaces y a correr riesgos por la causa del Evangelio. “Creo apasionadamente en el poder transformador y redentor de Jesucristo”, afirmó. “Creo apasionadamente en el valor y la fidelidad de sus seguidores. Creo apasionadamente en ustedes. Lo que hagamos aquí cambiará la Iglesia y el mundo”.

Continuando con el tema, Morales enfatizó la importancia de la oración y la formación al equipar discípulos para el ministerio. Mediante la oración y la formación, explicó, nos preparamos para ser discípulos y evangelistas. “Somos ministros del amor”, dijo, y llamó a que mostraran el rostro de Dios al mundo.

En su presentación, Spellers afirmó los dones que ya están presentes en la comunidad. “Nadie está intentado darles a los latinos algo que ustedes ya no tengan”, dijo. Ella recontó las muchas maneras  en que había sido inspirada por la comunidad latina, diciendo: “Ustedes han cambiado mi vida y han hecho crecer mi fe”. Ella le pidió a todos los participantes que dejaran brillar su luz. Al final de su presentación, todos se unieron a cantar “Esta lucecita mía” en español e inglés.

Además de las sesiones plenarias, los participantes tuvieron la oportunidad de asistir a una variedad de talleres, sobre asuntos tales como el estado de la inmigración en Estados Unidos, el ministerio LGBTQ, la música latina dentro de la Iglesia Episcopal y el uso de las redes sociales como una herramienta para la evangelización.

Sandy Milien, una universitaria recién graduada de la Diócesis del Sureste de la Florida, fue una de los presentadores de talleres. Ella ayudó a dirigir un taller sobre la Campaña de Compartir Historias de la Amada Comunidad y se quedó muy conmovida por las respuestas de los participantes. “Es maravilloso cuando las personas se te acercan después y te dicen que tu taller los ha tocado de maneras inesperadas”, dijo ella. . “Ahí es cuando ves el amor de Dios operando en la gente”.

Esta fue la primera vez que Milien asistía a un Nuevo Amanecer. Su madre, sacerdote episcopal en Miami, ha participado en la conferencia varias veces y la alentó a venir. “Es una excelente manera de que personas de diferentes ministerios en la comunidad latina se reúnan y vean que somos algo más que nuestras iglesitas”, dijo ella. “Somos una gran parte de la Iglesia Episcopal”.

Agatha Nolen, participante de la Diócesis de Tennessee, dijo que había aprendido muchísimo durante [la conferencia de] Nuevo Amanecer. Ella mencionó la creciente población latina de Nashville, la ciudad de donde viene, y dijo que se preguntaba cómo su congregación podría relacionarse mejor con esta comunidad.

“Una cosa que he aprendido aquí es que una talla no se ajusta a todos los modelos”, dijo. Se sintió agradecida de saber que personas que no hablan español pueden participar en los ministerios latinos. “En nuestra diócesis, no contamos con muchos sacerdotes que hablen español, y eso siempre se ha identificado como una barrera. Tal vez no es una barrera tan grande como creíamos”.

Un grupo de bailarines de la iglesia episcopal de La Trinidad en Greeley, Colorado, ejecutó una danza durante la eucaristía de apertura. Yuri Rodríguez, de la iglesia catedral de Cristo, en Indianápolis, Indiana, dirigió al equipo de miembros del coro y a los instrumentistas que proporcionaron la música. Foto de Millard Cook.

La conferencia incluyó un culto lleno del Espíritu, con música dirigida por Yuri Rodríguez, directora asociada de música hispana y encargada de ministerio en la iglesia catedral de Cristo  [Christ Church Cathedral] en Indianápolis, Indiana. Ella trabajó con el equipo de liturgia para seleccionar una amplia gama de música, desde música indígena latinoamericana hasta música contemporánea de compositores latinos.

“Mi visión era integrar la tradición coral anglicana con nuestros ritmos y lenguaje musical latinoamericanos”, explicó.

La conferencia también incluyó una composición original, “Un nuevo amanecer”, escrita por Ana López y el Rdo. Hipólito Fernández Reina para la ocasión.

Los servicios de culto, al igual que la conferencia como un todo, celebraron la diversidad de ministerios dentro de las comunidades latinas. La Rda. Nancy Frausto, sacerdote de la Diócesis de Los Ángeles, predicó en la eucaristía de clausura, y le dijo a los participantes que Dios les había llevado a la Iglesia Episcopal para compartir singulares dones.

“Dios nos ha llamado a la Iglesia Episcopal para compartir nuestras experiencias, nuestra historia, nuestra tradición, nuestro idioma, nuestra música”, afirmó ella. “Cada uno de ustedes tiene dones que la Iglesia necesita ahora”.

– La Rda. Leigh C. Preston es instructora en pastoral hispana y en el ministerio Latino/Hispano en la Escuela de Teología de Sewanee: La Universidad del Sur. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Nuevo Amanecer conference celebrates the diversity of Latino ministries

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 3:44pm

A group of participants joined hands in prayer during one of the worship services at Nuevo Amanecer. Photo by Millard Cook.

[Episcopal News Service – Hendersonville, North Carolina] This week, nearly 400 people gathered Aug. 27 to 30 at Kanuga Conference and Retreat Center for Nuevo Amanecer, a biennial conference that celebrates and supports Latino ministries in the church.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Construimos, Equipamos, Inspiramos” – “We Build, Equip, Inspire.” Many participants went to great lengths and traveled long distances to attend. This year, for the first time, the conference included a large presence from Province IX, with participants from countries in Central and South America.

The Rev. Bladimir Pedraza was among five participants who made the trip to North Carolina from Colombia. He first learned about Nuevo Amanecer at the Evangelism Matters conference in March in Ohio, and he was thrilled when his bishop invited him to participate in Nuevo Amanecer. He is grateful for this opportunity to reflect and share with people from other cultures.

“It has been a wonderful experience,” Pedraza said. “It is a reminder that we are all equal in the church, and that we all have the same love.”

The first Nuevo Amanecer took place in Los Angeles in 2002, and six years passed before it was offered again, in Atlanta. In 2010, the conference found a home at Kanuga, where it is now held every two years. It is organized by the Office of Latino/Hispanic Ministries in partnership with Kanuga, and this year’s conference received additional support from the Episcopal Church Foundation and Forward Movement.

Nearly 400 people gathered at Kanuga for Nuevo Amanecer, a biennial conference that celebrates and supports Latino ministries in the Episcopal Church. Photo by the Rev. Edgar Giraldo Orozco.

The Rev. Anthony Guillén, missioner for Latino/Hispanic ministries and director of ethnic ministries for the Episcopal Church, said that from the start the focus of Nuevo Amanecer has been formation and fellowship. When he first began his position, many people involved in Latino ministries felt very isolated from each other, and Nuevo Amanecer provided an opportunity for them to learn in community.

He noted that the majority of participants are lay people. “Why are they coming to a ministry conference?” he asked. “They’re coming because they want to learn and be trained. They recognize that they have gifts, and they long to be evangelists and leaders in this church.

Guillén explained, “Our vision is to create a place where people can come together, whether they are just starting and discerning about Latino ministry, or whether they have been in the pews for several years and they’re hearing God’s call to do more, or whether they are already in leadership and looking for more training.”

This year’s conference included three keynote speakers: The Rt. Rev. Daniel Gutiérrez, bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania; the Rt. Rev. Rafael Morales, bishop of the Diocese of Puerto Rico; and the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation. Each speaker addressed one part of the overall theme for the conference.

Gutiérrez reflected on the theme of building up the church. He sought to correct harmful language, explaining, “For Latinos and for every person of color, we are not an outreach project. We are the church.”

He urged participants to be bold and to take risks for the sake of the Gospel. “I passionately believe in the transformative and redemptive power of Jesus Christ,” he said. “I passionately believe in the courage and faithfulness of his followers. I passionately believe in you. What we do here will change the church and the world.”

Continuing with the theme, Morales emphasized the importance of prayer and formation in equipping disciples for ministry. Through prayer and formation, he explained, we are equipped to be disciples and evangelists. “We are ministers of love,” he said, and called to show the face of God to the world.

In her presentation, Spellers affirmed the gifts already present within the community. “Nobody is trying to give Latinos something you don’t already have,” she said. She recounted the many ways she had been inspired by the Latino community, saying, “You have changed my life and grown my faith.” She called on all participants to let their light shine bright. At the end of her presentation, all joined her in singing “This Little Light of Mine” in both English and Spanish.

In addition to the plenary sessions, participants had the opportunity to attend a variety of workshops, with topics such as the state of immigration in the United States, LGBTQ ministries, Latino music within the Episcopal Church and the use of social media as a tool for evangelism.

Sandy Milien, a recent college graduate from the Diocese of Southeast Florida, was one of the workshop presenters. She helped lead a workshop about the Beloved Community StorySharing Campaign, and she was very moved by the responses of the participants. “It’s great when people come up afterwards and tell you that your workshop touched them in unexpected ways,” she said. “That’s when you see the love of God working in people.”

This was Milien’s first time attending Nuevo Amanecer. Her mother, an Episcopal priest in Miami, has participated in the conference several times and encouraged her to come. “It is such a great way for people of different ministries in the Latinx community to come together and see that we are more than just our small churches,” she said. “We are a big part of the Episcopal Church.”

Agatha Nolen, a participant from the Diocese of Tennessee, said she learned a great deal during Nuevo Amanecer. She mentioned the growing Latino population in her hometown of Nashville, and she said that she has wondered how her congregation can better engage with this community.

“One thing that I’ve learned here is that there’s not a one-size-fits-all model,” she said. She was grateful to learn about ways that non-Spanish speakers can become involved in Latino ministries. “In our diocese, we don’t have a lot of priests who speak Spanish, and that has always been identified as a barrier. Maybe it’s not as much of a barrier as we really thought.”

A group of dancers from Trinity Episcopal Church in Greeley, Colorado, presented a dance during the opening Eucharist. Yuri Rodriguez of Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis, Indiana, directed the team of choir members and instrumentalists who provided music. Photo by Millard Cook.

The conference included spirit-filled worship, with music directed by Yuri Rodriguez, associate director of Hispanic music and ministry manager at Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis, Indiana. She worked with the liturgy team to select a broad range of music, from indigenous Latin American music to contemporary music by Latinx composers.

“My vision was to bring together the Anglican choral tradition with our Latin American rhythms and musical language,” she said.

The conference also featured an original composition, “Un Nuevo Amenecer,” written by Ana López and the Rev. Hipólito Fernandez Reina for the occasion.

The worship services, like the conference as a whole, celebrated the diversity of ministries within Latino communities. The Rev. Nancy Frausto, a priest in the Diocese of Los Angeles, preached at the closing Eucharist, and she told participants that God had brought them into the Episcopal Church to share their unique gifts.

“God has called us to the Episcopal Church to share our experiences, our history, our tradition, our language, our music,” she said. “Each one of you has gifts that the church needs now.”

– The Rev. Leigh C. Preston is an instructor in pastoral Spanish and Latino/Hispanic ministry in the School of Theology at Sewanee: The University of the South.

ENS Senior Editor and Reporter Mary Frances Schjonberg heading on sabbatical

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 3:32pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg, Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter, will begin a three-month sabbatical on Sept. 4. She will return on Dec. 5.

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (the nonprofit corporate entity through which the Episcopal Church owns property and does business) offers such leaves to all regular employees who have satisfactorily completed five years of continuous, full-time service. Sabbaticals are meant for personal and spiritual refreshment and professional growth.

News and tips maybe be sent to ENS Managing Editor Lynette Wilson (lwilson@episopalchurch.org) and ENS Editor and Reporter David Paulsen (dpaulsen@episopalchurch.org) during Schjonberg’s absence.

 

 

From the editors: Episcopal News Service to disable comments

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 2:57pm

[Episcopal News Service] When we invited our readers to comment on Episcopal News Service stories nearly seven years ago, we did so in the spirit of generating and encouraging discussion related to our content.

However, increasingly, some voices have come to dominate the discussion, which at times has strayed from the stories themselves into theological and ideological arguments. We value our readers and we value civil discourse, but we can no longer offer a comment function on our website. Readers may still, however, comment on ENS stories on Facebook and Twitter. Readers who would like to comment directly to us may do so via news@episcopalchurch.org.

We are far from alone in this decision. Beginning at least in late 2014 and continuing to now, media organizations far larger than ENS have decided to stop allowing comments on their stories. They range from Reuters and USA Today to the Atlantic and National Public Radio. We regret this trend and the polarization that promoted it. We pray for a time when people can, in the words of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby “learn to disagree well.”

The editors 

Nevada names three-person bishop nominee slate

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 2:21pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Diocese of Nevada has announced a slate of nominees for election as the 11th bishop of Nevada.

They are:

  • The Rev. Lance Ousley, canon for stewardship and development, Diocese of Olympia, Olympia, and priest-in-charge and head of school, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Kirkland, Washington;
  • The Rev. Tara K. Soughers, interim priest, The Church of Our Savior, Somerset, Massachusetts;
  • The Rev. Kirk A. Woodliff, rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Sparks, Nevada.

More information on the nominees is here.

Nominations by petition can be made until is 5 p.m. Sept. 7. Information is here.

The 11th bishop will succeed Bishop Dan Edwards who was elected Oct. 12, 2007. He succeeded Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who had been elected as the 26th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church June 18, 2006.

The election is set for Dec. 1. After receiving the canonically consent of the majority the church’s diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction, the new bishop will be ordained and consecrated March 11, 2019.

La Catedral Nacional de Washington se prepara para asistir a la familia y a la nación en honrar a McCain

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 7:57am

El senador John McCain, que falleció el 25 de agosto de un cáncer del cerebro, fue miembro del Senado desde 1987 hasta su muerte. También fue miembro de la Cámara de Representantes desde 1983 hasta que ingresó en el Senado. Foto de la Oficina del senador John McCain.

[Episcopal News Service] La Catedral Nacional de Washington puede ser el sitio de los funerales de Estado y de los oficios y celebraciones conmemorativos de la nación, pero también es una comunidad de fieles cuyos miembros acuden al inmenso edificio de la más alta elevación de Washington, D.C. para subrayar los momentos importantes de sus vidas. Y es por eso que al funeral del senador John McCain el 1 de septiembre le seguirá una boda esa tarde.

“Esta pareja realmente tiene su recepción detrás de la nave de manera que vamos a entrar cientos de sillas y sacar cientos de sillas y a entrarlas de nuevo otra vez el sábado por la noche para los oficios del domingo por la mañana”, dijo el Muy Rdo. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, deán de la catedral, en una entrevista con Episcopal News Service.

Los más de 80 empleados de la catedral pondrán su granito de arena mientras se preparan para el funeral de McCain, dispuesto para las 10 AM y para los oficios que siguen. “ Algunos empleados estarán aquí toda la noche del viernes y hasta el sábado por la noche”, dijo él.

El senador John McCain pronuncia un discurso en el 75º. Aniversario de Pearl Harbor, el 7 de diciembre de 2016. Foto: Oficina del senador John McCain.

El funeral de McCain será el oficio más largo celebrado en la catedral desde el oficio fúnebre del ex presidente Gerald R. Ford en 2007, explicó él. La catedral ha sido el escenario de muchos funerales presidenciales y de otros oficios en ocasiones de crisis nacionales y de desastres naturales. Ha habido oraciones por la paz y oficios para recordar a las víctimas de la masacre de la escuela de Newtown, Connecticut, del huracán Katrina y del terremoto de Haití, entre otros.

McCain, que falleció el 25 de agosto de un cáncer del cerebro a punto de cumplir 82 años, fue senador por Arizona durante mucho tiempo y también pasó años como prisionero de guerra luego de haber sido derribado [cuando piloteaba un bombardero] sobre Hanói durante la guerra de Vietnam.

Lleva más de 80 personas preparar un oficio como el funeral de McCain, de ahí que, según el deán, hayan instado a participar a más de 150 voluntarios.

“Sólo las necesidades del Servicio Secreto pueden ser inmensas”, dijo Hollerith. “Cerrar las calles, registrar los edificios horas antes, a veces con días de antelación. Participarán 250 representantes de los medios de prensa. Se forman colas de personas fuera mientras la seguridad deja pasar a los invitados. Es un evento privado, por invitación, sólo que la catedral es muy grande”.

Hollerith espera la asistencia de 2.500 personas o más.

Aun en esa escala, apuntó el deán, el funeral sigue siendo como muchos funerales que tienen lugar en la catedral cada año, para los famosos y los no tan famosos. Como en cualquier congregación, se pueden hacer algunos preparativos de antemano, ya sea de parte de la familia o de la persona que quiere estar “bien preparada”, en palabras del deán. Luego, después de la muerte de un ser querido, la familia elabora la sincronización del oficio. Él no dijo cuánto de planificación previa ha llevado los funerales de McCain.

“Lo que ocurre aquí para lo que no puedes prepararte es la logística que conlleva un oficio como éste debido a quién puede asistir, quién puede participar en hablar y cuándo el evento tendrá lugar”, explicó.

El periódico Arizona Republic de Phoenix dedicó su primera página a John McCain el día después de su muerto. Foto de Newseum Front Pages.

Aún no está disponible el orden del culto para el funeral, el cual se transmitirá en directo vía Internet. Sin embargo, la familia de McCain ha anunciado que los ex presidentes George W. Bush y Barack Obama harán los panegíricos, al igual que el ex secretario de Estado Henry Kissinger, el ex senador Joseph Lieberman y Meghan McCain, una de las hijas del senador. El Rdo. Edward A. Reese, presidente de la escuela preparatoria San Ignacio [St. Ignatius College Prep] de San Francisco, California, será el predicador.

Hollerith, la obispa diocesana de Washington Mariann Budde y el Rdo. Jan Cope, presidente del Cabildo, también participarán. Los detalles del oficio que se han hecho públicos hasta ahora se encuentran aquí.

El deán dijo que es un honor para la catedral ofrecer tales oficios. “Es una oportunidad de honrar a una familia afligida y de ayudar a una nación en duelo”, afirmó. Hollerith añadió que es también una oportunidad de mostrar lo mejor de la Iglesia Episcopal [mediante] su impactante y consoladora liturgia.

El 26 de agosto, el obispo primado Michael Curry se refirió a McCain como “un testigo de la nobleza de vivir no para uno mismo, sino para los ideales y valores que dan lugar a un mundo mejor”.

La nación dice adiós y honra a McCain

Una serie de ceremonias para  solemnizar el fallecimiento de McCain comenzarán el 29 de agosto cuando su cadáver estará tendido en el  Capitolio Estatal de Arizona, con seis horas de exposición pública luego de un oficio privado a las 10 A.M. Al día siguiente, a las 10 A.M. hay un culto conmemorativo en la iglesia bautista de North Phoenix.

Posteriormente, el cadáver de McCain será transportado por avión hasta la Base Conjunta Andrews, en Maryland, en las afueras de Washington, D.C. con vistas a su exposición  en la Rotonda del Capitolio Nacional el 31 de agosto.  Allí tendrá lugar una ceremonia aproximadamente a las 11:00 A.M. y luego se le montará una guardia de honor mientras el público pase a presentarle sus respetos de las 2:00 a las 8:00 P.M.

El oficio de la catedral es al día siguiente y McCain será enterrado el 2 de septiembre en el Cementerio de la Academia Naval de EE.UU. en Annapolis, Maryland, junto al almirante Chuck Larson, su condiscípulo de la Academia Naval y amigo de toda la vida, luego de un oficio privado en la capilla de la academia.

Indicios de la vida de fe de John McCain

McCain fue bautizado en la Iglesia Episcopal y era biznieto de un sacerdote episcopal. Sin embargo, durante los últimos 27 años asistió a la iglesia bautista de North Phoenix.

Al parecer, McCain nunca se hizo miembro de la iglesia, lo cual, como en todas las iglesias bautistas, requiere el bautismo por inmersión. Hace diez años, Dan Yeary, que era el pastor en ese momento, dijo en la página web de Baptist Global News que él había “dialogado” con McCain, entonces en su segunda aspiración presidencial, respecto a ese bautismo. (Los episcopales creen que una persona que ha sido bautizada con agua a cualquier edad en el nombre del Padre, del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo no necesita que la bauticen de nuevo).

McCain pasó cinco años y medio como prisionero de guerra en Vietnam del Norte, un tiempo que incluyó torturas y largos períodos de aislamiento, algunos de ellos porque él era el hijo del almirante que comandaba la guerra en el Pacífico. En un ensayo que escribió en 1973 para U.S. News and World Report, decía que había rezado no “por una fuerza sobrehumana ni para que Dios liquidara a los norvietnamitas” sino “por valor moral y físico, por orientación y sabiduría para hacer lo correcto.

“Pedía consuelo cuando sufría dolores, y a veces recibí alivio. Tuve apoyo en muchos momentos de prueba”.

El presidente Richard Nixon saluda a John McCain a su regreso a EE.UU. luego de su liberación de la cautividad en Vietnam del Norte en 1973. Foto de la Oficina del senador John McCain.

En 2007, él le dijo al Christian Science Monitor que “hubo ocasiones en que no pedía por un día más o una hora más, sino por un minuto más. Luego, tengo muy pocas dudas de que fue mi dependencia en alguien más fuerte que yo lo que no sólo me permitió salir adelante, sino salir adelante honorablemente”.

El Monitor informó que McCain ayudó a dirigir lo que [el periódico] llamó una “iglesia encubierta”. Orson Swindle, que pasó los últimos 20 meses de su cautividad con McCain contó que todos los domingos, después de que concluía el almuerzo, se lavaban los platos y se iban los guardias, el oficial de mayor rango en el área daba una señal de que era el momento de orar. Lo hacía tosiendo de una manera que recalcaba la letra “c” para significar iglesia [church] —primero una tos y luego otras tres toses.

Swindle explicó que la señal era el llamado a una “sólida corriente de pensamiento entre los que estábamos allí”, durante la cual los hombres en sus celdas individuales repetían en silencio la Jura de la Bandera, el Salmo 23 y el Padre Nuestro “y cualquier otra cosa que uno quisiera decir que nos aportara alguna ayuda —pero no en alta voz. Si nos oían hablar, venían y empezaban a torturarnos”.

Hacia el fin de la guerra, los norvietnamitas pusieron a los prisioneros de guerra juntos en una habitación, y los prisioneros pudieran organizar cultos dominicales. McCain dijo que él se convirtió en capellán “no porque el oficial de mayor graduación pensara que yo tenía alguna identidad religiosa en especial, sino porque me sabía de memoria el Credo de los Apóstoles y el Credo Niceno”.

McCain contó que él dirigía los cultos y hacía una breve plática. “Teníamos un coro que era maravilloso… El tipo que lo dirigía daba la casualidad que había sido anteriormente el director del coro de la Academia de la Fuerza Aérea”.

George Day (“Bud”), un compañero de prisión, le dijo a Religion News Service, que McCain “era, para mi sorpresa, muy buen predicador. Podía recordar toda la liturgia de los oficios episcopales… palabra por palabra”.

El senador recordaba la primera Navidad en que a los prisioneros les permitieron tener un culto juntos. Algunos de los hombres llevaban presos siete años. Los norvietnamitas le entregaron a McCain una Biblia en la versión del Rey Jacobo [King James], un pedazo de papel y un lápiz. Él anotó retazos del relato de la natividad de Mateo, Marcos, Lucas y Juan y leyó partes de la historia entre los himnos de Navidad.

“Llegamos al punto donde hablamos acerca del nacimiento de Cristo, y luego cantamos ‘Noche de paz’ y aún recuerdo mirar los rostros de eso tipos — enjutos, agotados— pero a la mayoría de ellos, a muchos de ellos, les corrían las lágrimas”, dijo McCain al Monitor. “Y ellos no estaban tristes, se sentían felices de que, por primera vez en tantos años, podíamos adorar juntos”.

En su libro La fe de mis padres [Faith of My Fathers], el senador contaba que ese culto “era más sagrado para mí que cualquier culto al que yo hubiera asistido en el pasado, o cualquier culto al que haya asistido desde entonces”.

McCain también recordaba un día de Navidad en que le permitieron pararse afuera durante 10 minutos en un patio. Un guardia se puso al lado suyo y, con su sandalia, trazó en la tierra una cruz y se quedó allí de pie por un minuto mirando silenciosamente a McCain. Unos minutos después, la borró y se fue, recordaba él. Ese fue el mismo guardia que unos meses antes había venido a su celda una noche para desatarle las cuerdas que le mantenían a McCain las manos sujetas a la espalda en una posición dolorosa.

En un ensayo titulado “El momento en que llegué a amar a mi enemigo” [“The Moment I Came to Love My Enemy”], McCain llamó a este guardia su Buen Samaritano y contaba que en ese patio “por sólo ese momento olvidé todo mi odio por mis enemigos, y todo el odio que la mayoría de ellos sentían por mí… Me olvidé de la guerra, y de las cosas terribles que la guerra te hace. Yo era sólo un cristiano venerando la cruz con un hermano cristiano la mañana de Navidad”.

McCain ha expuesto también el papel de su fe y del culto comunitario durante esos años aquí.

Kirk Smith, el obispo de la Diócesis de Arizona, le dijo a ENS que él conocía a McCain desde dos perspectivas. Como político, el senador se reunió con Smith al menos tres veces para discutir sobre inmigración, un tema polémico en el estado. “Él era muy sencillo y receptivo y quería oír lo que pensábamos”, dijo Smith. “Era un buen escucha”.

Una vez, de improviso, Smith invitó a McCain a asistir a una reunión interreligiosa sobre inmigración en el sur de Phoenix. Pese a ser un hombre cuya agenda a menudo se preparaba con meses de antelación, el senador tenía libre esa tarde y fue.

Smith recordaba la a veces cambiante postura de McCain sobre la inmigración, pero también relató una historia que McCain le contó para explicarle porqué él había llegado a favorecer la amnistía para los inmigrantes. El senador había ido a una ceremonia de naturalización y había visto asientos vacíos en la primera fila con botas de combate en cada silla. Representaban a soldados que habían muerto en acción mientras estaban en el proceso de convertirse en ciudadanos de Estados Unidos. “Eso fue lo que lo decidió”, contó Smith. “Él dijo, si estos jóvenes estuvieron dispuestos a dar su vida por este país, por qué no hacerlos ciudadanos”.

A los soldados los hicieron ciudadanos póstumamente, contó Smith.

Smith también conocía a McCain por medio de la tía del senador, una hermana gemela idéntica a su madre, que era su feligresa en la iglesia de Santiago Apóstol [St. James] en Los Ángeles. Él le recordaría a McCain esa conexión y eso dio lugar a intercambio de historias.

McCain asistió a la Escuela Secundaria Episcopal en Alexandria, Virginia. Si bien, mientras estuvo en la escuela, se vio influido por el maestro de inglés e instructor de fútbol americano William Ravenel. “Yo lo adoraba”, diría McCain, según cuenta Robert Timberg en John McCain: una odisea americana [John McCain: An American Odyssey] “Él vio algo en mí que los demás no vieron. Y se tomó mucho interés personal en mí y pasamos muchísimo tiempo juntos. Tuvo una influencia muy importante en mi vida”.

El obispo de la Diócesis de California, Marc Andrus, recordaba el 27 de agosto que él oyó a hablar a McCain dos veces en la Secundaria Episcopal mientras Andrus era el capellán de la escuela. El senador dijo que, de estudiante, no le gustaba la asistencia obligatoria a los oficios de la capilla.

“Durante esos oficios diarios, que yo imagino que no sólo aburrían sino frustraban a McCain, sucedió algo inesperado: él memorizó oraciones, parte de los salmos y otros recursos espirituales que dice le sostuvieron, a él y a otros, durante los casi seis años de su encarcelamiento en Vietnam durante la guerra”, escribió Andrus.

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora sénior y reportera de Episcopal News Service Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Church ‘cannot, will not walk away’ from reconciling role in global conflict, Archbishop of Canterbury tells UN

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 2:26pm

[Episcopal News Service] Churches are the on the front line of mediation efforts across the world, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby told the United Nations Security Council on Aug. 29, in part because they are often “the only functioning institutions in a fragile or pre-conflict situation.”

He said that churches and other faith communities are “intimately present where there are conflicts; we cannot and will not walk away from them.” He cited the role of Sudanese Anglican Primate and Archbishop Justin Badi Arama in peace efforts in South Sudan.

Welby repeatedly stressed that mediation must take place within the context of reconciliation.

“Where mediation is about resolving conflict, reconciliation is the process of transforming violent conflict into non-violent co-existence where communities have come to terms with history and are learning to disagree well,” he said during a briefing that made him the first archbishop of Canterbury to address the Security Council. “Mediation by itself, however skilled, is like using a garden hose to put out a forest fire, when what you need is rain over the whole area to let new life grow and sustain itself.”

Reconciliation doesn’t come at the end of conflict, the archbishop said. “It must come out of framework that enables us to sustain peace and avoid conflict cycles from repeating in ever-increasing destructive force.”

Welby was the first briefer for the council’s “open debate” on “mediation and its role in conflict prevention.” United Kingdom Ambassador to the U.N. Karen Pierce invited Welby to participate. The debate is one of two big “discretionary events” being organized by the U.K. during its “rolling presidency” of the organization.

The archbishop has experience in international mediation and is a member of U.N. Secretary General António Guterres’ High Level Advisory Board on Mediation. Guterres established the board in September 2017 as part of his call for a “surge in diplomacy for peace.”

The United Nations Security Council begins its Aug. 29 debate on mediation and its role in conflict prevention. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is the first person seated at the right end of the table. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

According to a U.N. background document, the questions for the council to consider during the Aug. 29 session included how it can more effectively support mediation as a means for settling disputes: how it, member states and the U. N. organization can adapt their approach to mediation to take account of the changing nature of conflict and the increase in the number and diversity of mediation actors on the ground; how it can find the most effective approach to building mediation capacity at all levels; and how all three entities more effectively can support and strengthen the meaningful participation of women in mediation and conflict resolution.

Welby told the Security Council that he represents a global church “in which the average member is a poor woman living in a conflict or post-conflict setting who has the aspirations of all vulnerable people – above all, a longing for peace.”

Guterres wants to strengthen the U.N.’s work in conflict prevention and mediation and the mediation advisory board is expected to allow the U.N. “to work more effectively with regional organizations, non-governmental groups and others involved in mediation around the world,” the U.N. said.

The secretary general asked in January 2017 (page 4 here) that the Security Council to make greater use of the options laid out in Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations on the “pacific settlement of disputes,” including mediation.

“War is becoming increasingly complex – and so is mediating peace,” Guterres said Aug. 29 as he opened the debate. “Conflicts around the world drag on for years and decades, holding back development and stunting opportunities. Comprehensive peace agreements are becoming more elusive and short-lived. Political will wanes; international attention drifts.”

The secretary general said that the U.N. must invest more in preventing conflicts and that must include “investment in mediation, peacebuilding and sustainable development.” That investment, he said, must be more inclusive of women and of entities beyond “political and military elites.

“That means working at the subnational and local levels to help build peace from the ground up. Local authorities, civil society, traditional and religious leaders all have critical roles to play.”

The secretary general issued a report on U.N. activities in support of mediation in June 2017.

Mossarat Qadeem, co-founder of PAIMAN Alumni Trust, addresses the United Nations Security Council Aug. 29 on the role of women in the international peace and security. Photo: Evan Schneider/UN Photo

Pakistani peace advocate Mossarat Qadeem, who followed Welby, echoed the call for including women mediators in the U.N.’s work. “We as women remain largely outside the door,” she said, perhaps because they have skills that others perceive as “soft.” She said women mediators often strategically choose to begin with “soft issues” as a way to move the parties into the harder ones.

She rejected the argument that women cannot be mediators in certain places because of cultural expectations about gender roles. It’s not about culture, she said, it’s about power. How much longer, she asked, can the world afford to reject the skills of “those of us who are working for peace on the front lines?”

The Security Council last considered mediation and the peaceful resolution of conflicts in an open debate on April 21, 2009. More background about the intent of the Aug. 29 open debate is here.

Jack Palmer-White, the Anglican Communion’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva, left, speaks with the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church, before the Aug. 29 meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Anglican Communion has official observer status with the United Nations. Jack Palmer-White is the communion’s representative to the U.N. The Episcopal Church is a U.N. Economic and Social Council accredited non-governmental organization, or a member of the so-called “civil society” organizations that are engaged in advocacy and activist work.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

Pilgrimage to new ‘lynching memorial’ fosters racial understanding

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 11:43am

This April 28, 2018, photo shows pillars inscribed with the names of victims of lynching from southern states hang from the ceilings inside the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. Photo: Evan Frost/AP

[Episcopal News Service — Montgomery, Alabama] A spiritual pilgrimage can lay bare old scars, change who you are and how you see other people. That’s what many members of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia, reported after experiencing the new National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the collective story of more than 4,400 people who were lynched in this country.

These 82 travelers also stopped at the Legacy Museum nearby, which connects slavery and racial terrorism to the mass incarceration in the United States. Their long-planned journey followed last month’s General Convention support for “Becoming Beloved Community,” the Episcopal Church’s interrelated resources for responding to racial injustice and organizing for reconciliation and healing. The convention passed resolutions tied to racial reconciliation, which is among the church’s three main priorities.

“I don’t think anything can fully prepare one for the atrocity that is part of our history,” the Rev. Angela Shepherd, St. Bartholomew’s rector, preached on Aug. 26 the morning after the pilgrimage, as participants continued to process the reality that between 1877 and 1950, more than 4,400 African-American men, women, and children were hanged, burned alive, shot, drowned and beaten to death by white mobs

Facing that history, she and the pilgrimage participants believe, is a critical first step to countering the racial injustices embedded in our society today. Building this bridge is important at St. Bartholomew’s, which in April called Shepherd as its first female rector and first African-American rector. Located in DeKalb County, a fast-growing refugee and non-English speaking county that includes part of the city of Atlanta, St. Bartholomew’s 2017 profile described its membership as 96 percent white.

“We long for a more racially and ethnically diverse community, but have not yet made the necessary changes for that community to flourish,” the profile stated. “We are seeking new strategies.”

Barriers to the destination

This marker for DeKalb County, Georgia, where St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church is located, indicates that the most recent lynching happened less than a decade before the church opened its doors. Photo: Virginia Murray

Despite careful planning for the 340-mile round trip journey, the group from St. Bartholomew’s encountered barriers that for many symbolized the profound discomfort of spiritual change.

The departure was delayed while the chartered bus service located an approved driver. Near Tuskegee, Alabama, the bus broke down in the summer heat. Its replacement was a shuttle full of items belonging to another tour group. Transformation apparently had its own itinerary.

The 3-hour delay extended the travelers’ time for considering the history of racial violence along the Interstate 85 route, as researched and shared by trip organizers. Near the Newnan, Georgia, exit, the 1899 lynching of Sam Hose drew trainloads of Atlanta spectators who watched his burning and mutilation, with parts of his body taken as souvenirs. Near Lanett, Alabama, in 1912, four African-Americans were shot 300 times and left strung up beside a baptismal font outside a church.

Deaths by mob violence recall the crucifixion of Christ, a connection that the group had explored this summer by reading and discussing “The Cross and the Lynching Tree,” by black liberation theologian James H. Cone.

As the travelers reached their destination, Shepherd read from the book’s closing exhortation, that Christians grasp the cross and lynching tree as blueprints for racial reconciliation.

“We were made brothers and sisters by the blood of the lynching tree, the blood of sexual union, and the blood of the cross of Jesus,” she read. “No gulf between blacks and whites is too great to overcome, for our beauty is more enduring than our brutality.”

Personal stories intertwine with past violence

Our common humanity was a message that gained momentum at the stark national memorial. No selfies are allowed, and the coffin-sized, rusting metal sculptures—each representing a county where lynching occurred, and stenciled with the names of those executed—are meant to inspire individual and communal commitment to a just and peaceful future.

“Your names were never lost, each name a holy word,” Elizabeth Alexander wrote in her poem “Invocation” posted at the memorial.

The six-acre memorial grew out of the conviction that lynching was the single most powerful way that Americans enforced racial inequalities after slavery ended. This sanctioned violence spurred the exodus of 6 million African-Americans (the Great Migration) that indelibly changed the United States economically, physically, demographically, spiritually.

The country’s first national memorial acknowledging victims of racial terror lynchings is based on research by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), led by Bryan Stevenson, a visionary public interest attorney, bestselling memoirist (“Just Mercy”) and MacArthur Foundation “genius” Award recipient. Stevenson has said that this work is driven by his Christian faith, nurtured in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

For some in the mostly white St. Bartholomew’s group, the memorial sculptures summoned personal history. Nora Robillard found 10 names inscribed on the one for Clarke County, Mississippi, “That’s where I was born,” she remarked.

Juliana Lancaster recognized a surname on the Spalding County, Georgia, memorial. “I think I found a relative,” she said.

“Fifteen unknown people in Texas died on my birthdate,” said Loren Williams. “I can’t believe I will celebrate another birthday without thinking about that.”

Meanwhile, Shepherd discovered familiar names on memorials for the counties in Kentucky and Tennessee where her family is rooted.

In DeKalb County, Georgia, St Bartholomew’s established itself as a community leader in civil rights, AIDS outreach, LGBTQI issues, homelessness and other concerns starting in 1954. The memorial noted that the last of four lynchings documented in that county occurred in 1945.

“’The past is never dead. It’s not even past,’” said Williams, quoting William Faulkner.

“The fact that we went as a church, a community of faith, amplified, almost prism-like, the ferocity of getting as close as we possibly could to the evil reality of lynching,” trip organizer Scotty Greene added. “Our shared faith in Christ got us down that road to do that. For me, this pilgrimage was functioning as Ken Wilber described religion, ‘not a conventional bolstering of consciousness but a radical transmutation and transformation at the deepest seat of consciousness itself.’ As another pilgrim shared with me, I’ll never be the same.”

The August light amid these hanging memorials to lynching victims created a strong sense of the sacred, almost like being in church. Photo: John Agel

The memorial hinted at Christianity’s influence in the lives of victims and perpetrators. Biblical names dotted the sculptures: Amos, Emanuel, Caleb, Luke, Solomon, Ephraim, Isaac, Moses, Simon, Elijah, Abraham, Samuel and Mary. A minister from Hernando County, Florida, Arthur St. Clair, was lynched in 1877 for performing an interracial wedding.

“I found myself with tears in my eyes as I thought about how some must have felt abandoned by the law or even by God,” said pilgrimage participant Alexander Escobar. “In response I found myself saying, ‘I care.’”

We are more than the worst thing we have ever done

At the Legacy Museum, built at the riverfront where slave trading businesses once outnumbered Montgomery’s churches, the travelers learned how the elaborate narrative of white supremacy allows racial terrorism to flourish as a social custom outside the law.

While faith in God enabled many African-Americans to endure inhumane treatment, their oppressors often saw their domination as a God-given right.

“Lord, how come me here?” is a lyric to a spiritual sung at the museum by holograms of actors depicting chained slaves. As slavery gave way to a legal system that metes out excessive punishment to African-Americans, a newspaper reported a 14-year-old African-American boy was sentenced in 1944 to die in South Carolina’s electric chair. Because the boy was too short for his head to reach the electrodes, guards used a Bible as a booster seat.

These truths created a fresh, searing awareness among those on the pilgrimage.

“The stunning justification that ‘the other’ is not really a human being—and therefore deserves slavery, lynching, unfair prosecution, segregation, languishing imprisonment, legal killing—brings home to me the objectification of human beings in our society,” said Marilyn Hughes. “It hurts in my heart and it hurts our nation. And yet, there is still love enough for forgiveness and healing. This was my learning.”

“This memorial shows us how our country’s original sins—economic cruelty, slavery and genocide—are eating away at our social fabric like cancers,” said Ray Gangarosa, a pilgrimage participant. “As we observe, in real time, these echoes from our sordid past eroding our democratic institutions and those of other nations around the world, God is making it crystal clear that there is no cure, no redemption, no salvation for these sins but total excision.”

Many faith groups seeking reconciliation in Montgomery

The memorial and museum have hosted more than 100,000 visitors since opening in April.

“We are especially thrilled to be seeing great interest from church groups and faith communities, thousands of whom have already visited the sites,” said Sia Sanneh, an attorney with the Equal Justice Institute, in an email response for this story. “It has been moving to see so many faith groups honoring the lives lost during the era of racial terror, and we are also seeing faith groups interested both in confronting this difficult history and in better understanding the links between the history of racial injustice and our contemporary challenges.”

In downtown Montgomery, the pilgrimage rested at St. John’s Episcopal Church, where the Rev. Robert C. Wisnewski Jr., rector, (in blue shirt) explained its history as the home church of Confederacy president Jefferson Davis. Photo: Virginia Murray

St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Montgomery, known as the parish where Confederacy president Jefferson Davis worshiped, has hosted several groups in conjunction with their visits to the memorial and museum. St. Bartholomew’s was the latest one.

Its rector, the Rev. Robert C. Wisnewski Jr., related how Episcopalians of Montgomery built the church and installed a spectacular Tiffany stained glass window. Tourists enjoy seeing the Jefferson Davis Pew, architecture and history.

Wealth, in Montgomery and other cities across the Southern states, was acquired through free slave labor and protected by Jim Crow laws.

“I loved looking at the beautiful decor, but it reminded me of how easy it is to be lulled into ignoring the ugly foundation of our privilege,” said Virginia Murray of St. Bartholomew’s. “The rector’s informal talk to us also demonstrated the challenges the Episcopal Church has, to make a place for Episcopalians on all stages of the reconciliation process. Although my church building was erected after slavery ended, I am still voluntarily a member of a denomination that was complicit in slavery, lynching, etc.”

The pilgrimage’s return bus trip included a closing liturgy, partly drawn from “Seeing the Face of God in Each Other: Antiracism Training Manual” and led by the Rev. Beverley Elliott, St. Bartholomew’s senior associate for pastoral care and adult formation and learning.

“The old satanic foe of racism is still woven into the fabric of our lives,” she read.

“Although, without you, we are not equal to this foe, through your grace empower us to overcome the forces that break community,” the travelers answered

“You have created us as your own family. You have called us together,” she said. “The time is now for new beginnings.”

“May we do the work we must do in your church and world, while it is still day, before it is too late,” the travelers responded. “May we never tire, nor turn our back, nor believe our work is ever done. For each day we must begin anew.”

— Michelle Hiskey is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and member of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church.

Washington National Cathedral prepares to help family, nation honor McCain

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 10:18am

Sen. John McCain, who died Aug. 25 of brain cancer, served in the U.S. Senate from 1987 until his death. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 until he entered the Senate. Photo: Office of Sen. John McCain

[Episcopal News Service] Washington National Cathedral may be the site of state funerals and national memorial services and celebrations, but it is also a worshipping community whose members come to the cavernous building on the highest hill in Washington, D.C. to mark the significant moments of their lives. And that is why on Sept. 1 the morning’s funeral for Sen. John McCain will be followed that afternoon by a wedding. 

“This couple is actually having their reception in the back of the nave so we’re going to be moving in hundreds of chairs and moving out hundreds of chairs and then flipping it over again Saturday night for services on Sunday morning,” the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, cathedral dean, told Episcopal News Service in an interview.

It’s all hands on deck for the cathedral’s 80-plus employees as they prepare for McCain’s funeral, set for 10 a.m. local time, and the services that follow. “Some employees will be here all-night Friday night and well into Saturday night,” he said.

Sen. John McCain delivers remarks on the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 2017. Photo: Office of Sen. John McCain

McCain’s funeral will no doubt be the largest such service held in the cathedral since former President Gerald R. Ford’s service in 2007, he said. The cathedral has been the setting for many presidential funerals and other services at times of national crises and natural disasters. There have been prayers for peace and services to remember the victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the Space Shuttle disaster, Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake, among others.

McCain, who died Aug. 25 from brain cancer just before his 82nd birthday, was a long time Arizona senator who also spent years as a prisoner of war after being shot down over Hanoi during the Vietnam War.

It takes more than 80 people to stage a service such as the McCain funeral. More than 150 volunteers are being pressed into action, according to the dean.

“Just the Secret Service needs alone can be immense,” Hollerith said. “Shutting down streets, sweeping the buildings hours ahead, days ahead sometimes. It will involve 250 folks from the media. You’ve got lines of people outside with security getting guests in. It’s a ticketed, private event, only because the cathedral is only so large.”

Hollerith expects that as many as 2,500 people or more will attend.

Even at that scale, the dean said, the funeral is still a funeral just like any of the many done in the cathedral each year for the famous and not-so-famous. Just as in any congregation, some preparations can be done in advance, either by the family or by the person who wants to be “well-prepared,” in the dean’s words. Then, after the death of a loved one, the family works out the timing of the service. He did not say how much preplanning has gone into the McCain funeral.

“What happens here that you can’t prepare for are the logistics involved in a service like this because of who may attend, who may be involved in speaking and when the event will happen,” he said.

Then-President Richard Nixon greets John McCain upon returning home after his 1973 release from captivity in North Vietnam. Photo: Office of Sen. John McCain

An order of service is not yet available for the funeral, which will be livestreamed. However, the McCain family has announced that that tributes will be offered by former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as well as by Henry Kissinger, former Sen. Joseph Lieberman and by Meghan McCain, one of the senator’s daughters. The Rev. Edward A. Reese, S.J., president of St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco, California, will preach.

Hollerith, Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Budde and the Rev. Jan Cope, cathedral provost, will also participate. The details of the service made public thus far are here.

The dean said that it is an honor for the cathedral to host such services. “It is an opportunity to honor a grieving family and to help a grieving nation,” he said. Hollerith added that it is also an opportunity to show the Episcopal Church at its best with powerful and comforting liturgy.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on Aug. 26 called McCain “a witness to the nobility of living not for self alone but for the ideals and values that make for a better world.”

The nation says good-bye and honors McCain

A series of ceremonies to mark the passing of McCain will begin Aug. 29 when his body will lie in state in the Arizona State Capitol. It would have been his 82nd birthday. A private service at 10 a.m. local time will be followed by six hours of public viewing. The next day, a memorial service is set for 10 a.m. at North Phoenix Baptist Church.

McCain’s body will then be flown to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., in preparation for lying in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Aug. 31. A ceremony will take place at approximately 11 a.m. ET and then a Capitol Hill Guard of Honor will preside as the public pay their respects between 2 and 8 p.m.

The cathedral service is the next day and McCain will be laid to rest Sept. 2 at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland, next to his Naval Academy classmate and lifelong friend, Admiral Chuck Larson, following a private service in the academy’s chapel.

Hints of the faith life of John McCain

The Arizona Republic newspaper in Phoenix devoted its front page to John McCain the day after his death. Photo: Newseum Front Pages

McCain was baptized an Episcopalian and was the great-grandson of an Episcopal priest. However, for the last nearly 27 years he has worshipped at North Phoenix Baptist Church.

It appears that McCain never became a member of the church, which like all Baptist-affiliated churches, requires full-immersion baptism. Ten years ago, then-pastor Dan Yeary told the Baptist Global News website that he had “dialogued” McCain, then in his second bid to become president, about such a baptism. Episcopalians believe that a person who has been baptized at any age with water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit does not need subsequent re-baptism.

McCain spent five and a half years as a POW in North Vietnam, a time that included torture and extended periods of isolation, some of it because he was the son of the admiral who commanded the war in the Pacific. In a 1973 essay for U.S. News and World Report, he wrote that he prayed not for “superhuman strength or for God to strike the North Vietnamese dead” but for “moral and physical courage, for guidance and wisdom to do the right thing.

“I asked for comfort when I was in pain, and sometimes I received relief. I was sustained in many times of trial.”

In 2007, he told the Christian Science Monitor that “there were times when I didn’t pray for one more day or one more hour, but I prayed for one more minute. So, I have very little doubt that it was reliance on someone stronger than me that not only got me through but got me through honorably.”

The Monitor reported that McCain helped run what it called a “covert church.” Orson Swindle, who spent the last 20 months of his captivity with McCain said that every Sunday, after the midday meal was finished, the dishes were washed, and the guards had departed, the senior officer in the area would signal that it was time to pray together, by coughing in a way that signaled the letter “c” for church – one cough and then three coughs.

Swindle said the signal was the call for “a solid stream of thought among those of us there” during which the men in their separate cells silently said the Pledge of Allegiance, the 23rd Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer, “and anything else you’d want to [say] in there that would get us some help – but not out loud. If we were heard talking, they would come in and start torturing us.”

Toward the end of the war, the North Vietnamese put the POWs together in a room and the prisoners were able to have organized Sunday church services. McCain said he became a chaplain “not because the senior ranking officer thought I was imbued with any particular extra brand of religion, but because I knew all of the words of the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.”

McCain said he conducted the services and gave a short talk. “We had a choir that was marvelous…. The guy who directed it happened to have been previously the director of the Air Force Academy choir,” he said.

George “Bud” Day, a fellow POW, told Religion News Service, that McCain “was a very good preacher, much to my surprise. He could remember all of the liturgy from the Episcopal services … word for word.”

The senator recalled the first Christmas the prisoners were allowed to have a service together. Some of the men had been held for seven years. The North Vietnamese handed McCain a King James Bible, a piece of paper] and a pencil. He jotted down bits of the nativity story from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He read parts of the story in between Christmas hymns.

“We got to the point where we talked about the birth of Christ, and then sang ‘Silent Night,’ and I still remember looking at the faces of those guys – skinny, worn out – but most of them, a lot of them, had tears down their faces,” McCain told the Monitor. “And they weren’t sorrow, they were happiness that for the first time in so many years we were able to worship together.”

In his book “Faith of My Fathers,” the senator said that service “was more scared to me than any service I had attended in the past, or any service I have attended since.”

McCain also recalled a Christmas Day when he was allowed to stand outside for 10 minutes in a courtyard. A guard came beside him and then drew a cross in the dirt with his sandal and stood there for a minute, looking at McCain silently. A few minutes later he rubbed it out and walked away, he recalled. This was the same guard who a few months earlier had come to his cell one night to loosen the ropes that held McCain’s arms behind his back in a painful position.

In an essay titled “The Moment I Came to Love My Enemy,” McCain called this guard his Good Samaritan and said that in that courtyard “for just that moment I forgot all my hatred for my enemies, and all the hatred most of them felt for me… I forgot about the war, and the terrible things that war does to you. I was just one Christian venerating the cross with a fellow Christian on Christmas morning.”

McCain also recounted the role of his faith and of communal worship during those years here.

Diocese of Arizona Bishop Kirk Smith told ENS that he knew McCain from two perspectives. As a policy maker, the senator met with Smith at least three times to discuss immigration, a controversial topic in the state. “He was very down to earth and receptive and wanted to hear what we thought,” Smith said. “he was a good listener.”

Once, on the spur of the moment, Smith invited McCain to come to an interfaith meeting on immigration south of Phoenix. For a man whose schedule was often made months ahead, the senator was free that afternoon and came.

“He was very well-loved and respected in Arizona, even though some people disagreed with him,” Smith said. “I disagreed with him on a lot of things, but people admired his character and his forthrightness.”

Smith recalled McCain’s sometimes-changing stance on immigration, but he also recounted a story that McCain told to explain why he eventually favored amnesty of immigrants. The senator had gone to a naturalization ceremony and had seen empty seats in the front row with combat boots in front of each chair. They represented soldiers who had died in action while they were in the process of becoming United States citizens. “That was the thing that pushed him over,” Smith said. “He said, if these young men were willing to give their lives for this country, why aren’t we making them citizens.”

The soldiers were posthumously made citizens, Smith said.

Smith also knew McCain by way of the senator’s aunt, his mother’s identical twin sister, who was a parishioner of his at St. James’ Church in Los Angeles. He would remind McCain of that connection, Smith said, and that led to swapping of stories.

McCain attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia. While at the school, McCain was influenced by English teacher and football coach William Ravenel. “I worshipped him,” said McCain, according to Robert Timberg’s “John McCain: An American Odyssey.” “He saw something in me that others did not. And he took a very personal interest in me and we spent a good deal of time together. He had a very important influence on my life.”

Diocese of California Bishop Marc Andrus recalled on Aug. 27 that he heard McCain speak twice at Episcopal High School while Andrus was the school’s chaplain. As a student, the senator said he was not happy about the school’s compulsory chapel services.

“During those daily services that I imagine not only bored but frustrated McCain, something unexpected happened: he memorized prayers, parts of psalms, and other spiritual resources that he says sustained him and others during his almost six years of imprisonment in Vietnam during the Vietnam War,” Andrus wrote.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

Episcopalians invited to grow as evangelists thorough 30-day challenge

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 5:31pm

[Episcopal News Service] Think about the last 24 hours. What has given you joy?

There’s no right or wrong answer, but if you’ve taken up the 30-Day Evangelism Challenge, the answer to that question was just the beginning.

“The reason it’s 30 days is it takes 30 days to change a habit,” said the Rev. Becky Zartman, one of the creators of the challenge, which launched Aug. 4 on the Episcopal Evangelists’ Facebook page and is scheduled to conclude on Sept. 2.

The new habit formed by challenge participants is the practice of evangelism. The game-like series of daily prompts encourages reflection and action, harnessing the recent energy in the Episcopal Church around evangelism and seizing on the spirit of experimentation encouraged by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Way of Love and its seven rule-of-life practices.

“Sometimes the narrative of decline in our church is so heavy on the heart,” said the Rev. Patricia Lyons, the Diocese of Washington’s missioner for evangelism and community engagement. “And as a result, we lose creativity in that scarcity, and we’re afraid to play and experiment. And I understand why. The stakes are huge in a post-Christian culture.”

She and Zartman were determined to try something new and learn from the experience. Zartman serves as an Episcopal chaplain at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Both were part of the team of advisers who met with the presiding bishop last year to discuss evangelism and who produced the framework for the Way of Love.

The 30-Day Evangelism Challenge grew out of those conversations, as well as Lyons’ experimenting with what she calls “micro-formation.” She saw social media as the ideal platform.

Lyons and Zartman are both Facebook administrators on the Episcopal Evangelists page, which is now approaching 4,000 members after its launch just a few months ago. This became their test group for the Evangelism Challenge. So far, the response has been encouraging, with more than 50 churches sharing the Episcopal Evangelists’ posts about the challenge and more than 2,000 engagements with those posts, Lyons said.

The 30 days are broken into three phases. Over the first 10 days, Zartman, tasked with writing the individual posts, challenged participants to look inward and think about the place of God in their own lives.

Day 4: “Think about your life. When did you feel close to God? When did you feel far away? What brought you home?”

Day 7: “Write a thank you note to someone who’s been influential in your faith journey. Who did you write to, and why?”

“Where Jesus shows up in people’s lives never ceases to amaze me,” Zartman said.

For the second phase, participants were encouraged to look around and seek God in their neighborhoods and their neighbors. Zartman sees such exercises building the foundation of a uniquely Episcopal brand of evangelism.

“This isn’t about just going out and handing out tracts,” she said. “Rather it’s about where Jesus is already working in the world and discovering where you can join.”

The challenge’s final 10 days are more of a call to action, encouraging participants to pray, serve, show kindness and, when the moment is right, talk about their faith with others.

“My hope is to make a curriculum that people can use in their parishes that will help people stay accountable to each other and actually foster a sense of the practice of evangelism on the ground in parishes,” Zartman said.

Part of the challenge’s value is the Facebook discussion it fosters among participants, though Zartman also created a simple website to house the daily posts. Lyons also thought one of the most interesting mixes of responses came on Day 6, when participants were encouraged to consider where God is working in their own lives by asking their social media followers.

Many expressed feeling awkward at even asking the question, with one comparing it to a teenager posting a selfie and asking for compliments. But some were pleasantly surprised by the feedback they received from friends, and several commenters felt encouraged at hearing their efforts to lead a Christian life had not gone unnoticed.

“I was really taken with how hard that question was,” Lyons said, but part of the challenge is to brave the uncomfortable. “This is a very good Episcopal formation moment.”

Lyons said she has received numerous emails from churches interested in modifying this challenge for different contexts, and she and Zartman plan to spend time after these first 30 days are over to review what worked and what could be improved. Eventually, they envision any number of similar 30-day challenges centered around other aspects of faith, including the seven practices of the Way of Love.

“It seems like the church is hungry for an Episcopal-style evangelism,” Zartman said, and Episcopalians are learning how to articulate their faith in their own way. “This is about the amazingness of God and sharing that love.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Episcopal priests join other faith leaders to sue New Jersey county over ICE contract

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 3:31pm

[Episcopal News Service] Advocacy for immigration detainees can take many forms, and four Episcopal priests in one New Jersey county have joined three other faith leaders to add an open-meetings law challenge to their efforts.

The seven, represented by the ACLU of New Jersey, filed a lawsuit Aug. 27 accusing the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders of violating the state’s Sunshine Law when it voted to renew a 10-year contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house in its county jail immigrant detainees who are awaiting deportation hearings. The contract earns the county millions of dollars.

The lawsuit says that the freeholders on July 10 unanimously agreed to postpone discussing and voting on whether to reauthorize for 10 more years what has become a controversial contract until the regular August meeting. The freeholders published an agenda of a July 12 meeting with the postponement noted and, the seven say, told people who arrived early to that meeting that the vote was postponed. However, after the meeting began, the board put the ICE contract back on the agenda and rapidly voted to renew it, over the opposition of two individual freeholders and those activists who happened to attend, they say.

The July 12 renewal resolution calls for ICE to pay the county $120 per detainee per day, a $10 increase from the $110 it had paid previously. Radio station WNYC reported that about two-thirds of inmates at the Hudson County Correctional Facility — 800 people — are immigration detainees.

Hudson and two neighboring counties are paid $6 million a month on ICE contracts and have collected more than $150 million since 2015, the station reported. Along with the privately-run Elizabeth Contract Detention Center, the four New Jersey facilities house approximately 2,000 immigrants.

If Hudson County’s current detainee count remains near 800, it will receive approximately $35 million a year, more than half of its total Department of Corrections budget. The freeholders predict massive layoffs at the jail or a big tax hike if the contract is severed, according to published reports.

Anthony Vainieri, a Democrat who chairs the board, has previously said that the contract allows immigrant detainees to stay close to their families and friends. Most of the detainees in the jail located in Kearny, New Jersey, are from across the Hudson River in New York. He has also said that ICE will not stop detaining people if the county stops holding them.

The first named plaintiff in the lawsuit, the Rev. Thomas Murphy, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Church of the Incarnation in Jersey City, told Episcopal News Service via email that “first of all, the freeholders should void their previous vote and start over, allowing for public input about the possibility of renewing the contract with ICE.”

“My hope is that this free and open discussion will allow for reflection on whether Hudson County should be in this business at all and, especially, if the county should be profiting from the misery of the detainees.”

Murphy said that question goes to what Episcopalians mean when they repent, in the words of the confession in Enriching Our Worship 1, (page 19 here) “the evil done on our behalf.”

The Rev. Elaine Ellis Thomas, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Hoboken and another of the plaintiffs, said in an interview with ENS that the freeholders “deliberately deceived the public about when [the contract] would be discussed and voted on.”

But there is also a larger issue, Thomas said. The advocates don’t believe that the detainees ought to be jailed while they await those deportation hearings or asylum determinations. “Hudson County is balancing their budget on the backs of detainees who are denied due process,” she said. “They’re not being given the same legal rights under ICE as anyone else that might be a prisoner there.”

However, Thomas said, “fighting that battle from a legal perspective is probably too high a bar right now.” Those who have visited with detainees say the argument about detaining them near their families does not carry much weight because families are often denied access to the jail or they live far away to begin with.

And then there are the deaths. Between June 2017 and March 2018, six people died while in the jail, the lawsuit says. The first death was a detained immigrant and, of the five others, four were by suicide. The lawsuit says the freeholders investigated and promised an overhaul of the medical care provided at the jail, arrangements of which are still being finalized.

“The Hudson County jail is just a really bad place to be,” Thomas said.

The other five religious leaders who brought the suit include the Rev. Gary Commins, an associate priest at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Church of the Incarnation in Jersey City; the Rev. Laurie Jean Wurm, rector of Grace Church Van Vorst in Jersey City; Ashraf Eisa, board member of the Islamic Center of Jersey City; the Rev. William Henkel, pastor of the First Reformed Church of Secaucus; and the Rev. Frances Teabout, and pastor of the Open Door Worship Center in Jersey City.

They were among 56 signers of a statement condemning the freeholders’ action. Those signers also included Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Newark Joseph Tobin. The statement was read at an Aug. 9 meeting of the board.

The signers said that they are grateful to have been given access for pastoral ministry among ICE detainees and are sensitive to the concerns that canceling the ICE contract entirely might put detainees far from lawyers, activists and family. Those concerns “should be part of a public conversation about what the county is pushing for in contract negotiations with the federal government, and how the funds that are generated from housing immigrant detainees are spent,” they wrote. “Diverting at least some of these funds to immigrant services or direct aid would be appropriate.”

The Episcopal Church’s support for immigrants, including those facing deportation, was underscored last month by the 79th General Convention, which passed multiple resolutions on immigration issues. Thomas said that the way Episcopalians have been formed in the church, especially by the baptismal covenant, “have led us to this point and I think it’s really important that people know that this is what the Episcopal Church is about. That’s our Episcopal identity.”

Thomas, who admits to being “the new kid on the block” having come to Hoboken eight months ago from St. Paul’s Memorial Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, said her involvement is “what my faith compels me to do, to stand up to powers and principalities and to advocate for humane, dignified treatment for all human beings.”

“The other component of it is that the narrative of religion, Christianity in particular, is being hijacked by a certain narrative that does not match my own.”

That narrative, she said, is centered on law and order, the attitude that might makes right, protecting borders and the need to insulate and protect. “We want people to know that there are faith leaders, and there are Christians, who believe that we’re not on the side of the rich and the powerful and the privileged but on the side of the poor and the oppressed and those who need advocates who do have the privilege and the power to do that.”

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

Solidarity Walk in New Hampshire helps energize state’s immigrant justice efforts

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 6:00pm

Participants in the Solidarity Walk for Immigrant Justice make their way from Manchester, New Hampshire, to Dover, tracing the path immigrants take when they are detained by federal authorities and held in the Stratford County jail. Photo: David Price

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians and their faith and community partners in a New Hampshire immigrant justice movement hope to build on the momentum gained during last week’s Solidarity Walk and a concluding prayer vigil held outside the county jail where federal immigrant detainees are held.

The four-day trek covered about 40 miles from Manchester to Dover, with several dozen people joining at least one of the segments along the way. On the final day, Aug. 25, Diocese of New Hampshire Bishop Rob Hirschfeld was among the speakers who addressed a crowd of about 100 people gathered on the lawn in front of the Strafford County Jail.

“Jesus said to have compassion for those who are in prison,” Hirschfield told Episcopal News Service by phone on Aug. 27, recapping the experience. He compared it to his experience in July when hundreds of Episcopalians who were attending the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas, gathered for a prayer service outside an immigrant detention facility in the area.

New Hampshire Bishop Rob Hirschfeld speaks Aug. 25 outside the Strafford County jail in Dover during the prayer vigil that concluded the Solidarity Walk for Immigrant Justice. Photo: David Price

“What I remember about both [vigils] is the Spanish sentence ‘te vemos’ – ‘we see you,’” Hirschfeld said. “The walk in New Hampshire was a way of our saying we see you, we value you, we see your plight. And I would also say we need to see ourselves and what this country is becoming, which is increasingly callous, brutal, insensitive to the suffering of our neighbors.”

The New Hampshire Council of Churches was one of the lead organizers of the Solidarity Walk for Immigrant Justice, which sought to raise awareness of the plight of immigrants in the state at a time when much of the focus has been on conflict along the Mexican border, especially under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy toward immigrants crossing into the United States.

And as Hirschfeld mentioned, another goal was to offer support for those who have been detained or who face deportation, said the Rev. Jason Wells, an Episcopal priest who serves as executive director of the council. He also noted that these several days on the road have strengthened the state’s community of immigrant supporters.

“There is a real shared experience, a real shared struggle in a way, to make the walk, and it brought us closer together,” he said. That solidary is expected to carry through to the weekly prayer vigils held outside the offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Manchester, with the next one scheduled for Aug. 28.

The Solidarity Walk kicked off with about 50 walkers, Wells said. About 25 people participated on each of the following two days, and participation rose to about 75 on the final day. Wells walked some of the segments and served as a support vehicle driver on other segments.

The walkers were met by a mix of reactions from the public. Negative responses ranged from drivers giving them thumbs down signs – or a certain other crude hand gesture – to people shouting, “build the wall,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s signature campaign promise of a border wall.

But many people instead gave honks of support, and walkers were greeted by other “pieces of solidarity,” Wells said. They were joined on one segment by a Christian leader from the local Indonesian immigrant community, who was stopped along the way by an Indonesian Muslim leader offering words of support. At another point, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen visited with the walkers and wished them well.

A family from El Salvador joined the walk for some of the segments, and their stories of fleeing to the United States and seeking asylum filled the walkers’ conversations with a sense of purpose as friendships were formed around a common cause, said the Rev. Gail Avery, the Diocese of New Hampshire’s canon for transition and community engagement.

“It was amazing to see the support that we did get along the way,” said Avery, who participated on the first three days. “We had people that came out of their houses, offered us water, offered us a bathroom break, which was amazing.”

Avery’s commitment to working for immigrant justice has been strengthened by the experience of passing through a checkpoint that the Border Patrol had set up on a highway through her state. As a white woman driving alone, she was waved through without delay, but she suspects that if she had been traveling with her daughter-in-law – a Salvadoran immigrant – authorities would not have let her pass without stopping her.

“I just believe that we are a land of liberty and freedom, and we’re a land of immigrants, a nation of immigrants, and we have just lost sight of it,” she said.

The Strafford County jail, one of six facilities in New England holding immigration detainees for the federal government. Photo: David Price

The Episcopal Church’s support for immigrants, including those facing deportation, was underscored last month by the 79th General Convention, which passed multiple resolutions on immigration issues.

The church and other faith communities are not taking political stances but rather pushing back against “the tyranny of ideology over humanity,” Hirschfeld said. Respecting the dignity of all humans is part of Episcopalians’ baptismal covenant, he said, and that message will live on in the ongoing prayer vigils held in Manchester when immigrants are called to check in with federal authorities.

The only thing that might change now at the vigils is the footwear, Wells said.

“We’ll see if people need to buy some new shoes before they go,” he said, after walking so many miles last week.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Los datos de los Informes parroquiales de 2017 ya están disponibles

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 9:24am

El Rev. canónigo Dr. Michael Barlowe, oficial ejecutivo de la Convención General, ha anunciado que los datos de los Informes parroquiales de 2017 de la Iglesia Episcopal ya están disponibles en inglés y español aquí.

El canónigo Barlowe observó que los datos de 2017 “continúan las tendencias recientes, con una disminución en las cifras claves de membresía y asistencia”, aunque “el ingreso congregacional a través de las promesas y otras ofertas ha aumentado”, incluso a pesar de que el número general de congregantes ha disminuido.

El Informe parroquial es la recopilación de datos más antigua y continua de la Iglesia Episcopal. Por tradición y regla, los requisitos de presentación de informes son desarrollados por el Comité de la Cámara de Diputados sobre el estado de la Iglesia, utilizando un formulario aprobado por el Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia. Supervisado por el Oficial Ejecutivo de la Convención General, el Informe parroquial toca a todas las congregaciones de la iglesia. Junto con otros datos, incluido el de Registrador de ordenaciones y el Registro de la Convención General, el Informe parroquial proporciona una visión interna del estado de la iglesia.

Los documentos recientemente publicados incluyen:

•           Datos Domésticos Rápidos Episcopales y Tendencias de Datos Domésticos

Rápidos Episcopales 2013-2017

•           Miembros bautizados por provincia y diócesis 2007-2017

•           Asistencia promedio del domingo por provincia y diócesis 2007-2017

•           Totales estadísticos para la Iglesia Episcopal por provincia 2016-2017

•           Totales estadísticos para la Iglesia Episcopal por Provincia y Diócesis 2016-2017

•           Ingresos de bandeja nacional y de la promesa de donación 2012-2017

•           Promesa de donación promedio por provincia y diócesis 2012-2017

•           Totales financieros y ASA por diócesis 2017

Los informes se pueden encontrar en el sitio web de la Convención General en http://www.generalconvention.org/research-and-statistics/#PR-Results.

Para obtener más información, comuníquese con la oficina de la Convención General a gcoffice@episcopalchurch.org o pr@dfms.org.

Pages