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After 174-year wait, cathedral prepares for consecration in Auckland, New Zealand

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 4:48pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] In 1843, the first Bishop of New Zealand, George Augustus Selwyn, purchased land for a cathedral in Auckland, On Oct. 28 – 174 years later – the finally-completed Holy Trinity cathedral will be consecrated. The cathedral’s foundation stone wasn’t laid until 1957 – some 114 after the land was purchased. Work on the cathedral finally came to an end this year, following the completion of a “Selwyn’s Vision” project to complete the work he started.

Read the full article here.

Pakistan politician speaking at Anglican event rejects treating non-Muslims as minorities

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 4:44pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The leader of Pakistan’s Jamat-e-Islami political party, Senator Siraj ul Haq, has said that non-Muslims should not be referred to as minorities or put into an inferiority complex. Senator ul Haq, who has led the Islamist party since March 2014, made his comments at an event to mark the completion of the Diocese of Peshawar’s two-year peace and harmony project.

Read the full article here.

Pakistan politician speaking at Anglican event rejects treating non-Muslims as minorities

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 4:40pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The leader of Pakistan’s Jamat-e-Islami political party, Senator Siraj ul Haq, has said that non-Muslims should not be referred to as minorities or put into an inferiority complex. Senator ul Haq, who has led the Islamist party since March 2014, made his comments at an event to mark the completion of the Diocese of Peshawar’s two-year peace and harmony project.

Read the full article here.

Church Pension Group’s ‘centennial conversations’ begin dialogue

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 2:56pm

[Episcopal News Service – New York, New York] The implications of declines in church-going and the aging trend of people who do go to church do not all have to be gloom and doom. Instread, they can prompt Episcopalians to be agents of change in the church and in the world.

That was the hopeful message heard by people participating in the first of four Insights & Ideas events, held in recognition of the Church Pension Group’s 100 years service to the Episcopal Church. The so-called “Centennial Conversation,” held at St. Bartholomew’s Church in Manhattan, featured two panels of experts, as well as interaction with audience members.

“Some see the aging of the church as the last gasp of a great church. I just don’t see that at all,” said the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III, acting/interim dean at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, New York. “I don’t think we need to worry about the death of forms and shapes and ministries that it’s taken. The church is going on.”

Daniel said the church is “being challenged both by culture and our own numbers to reimagine how we go about doing church, how we go about diaconal, priestly and episcopal ministry.”

“Through all that the Pension Fund has been a stream of support and encouragement,” he said.

Daniel was responding to the statistics and anecdotal evidence offered in the first panel: “The Demographics of a Changing Church” examined demographics, deployment and compensation trends impacting the church now and in the future.

Mark Chaves, professor of sociology, religious studies and divinity at Duke University, outlined seven of what he said were many possible trends with which to tell the story of American religion in the 21st century. He listed the following trends, reflecting the full spectrum of faiths and denominations:

Declining average congregational size
Chaves said the average number of “regular participants” in congregations stood at 80 in 1998 and is now down to 70.

Clergy working fewer hours
Six percent of all clergy were employed part time in 1998, and now 15 percent are. Part-time employment is defined as working less than 35 hours a week.

Greater concentration of churchgoers in the country’s largest congregations
The largest 7 percent of the country’s congregations (defined as having 400 members or more) contain half of all churchgoers, one third of all ministers employed full time and two-thirds of all those employed part-time. Chaves said this trend, which is “intensifying,” began around 1975 and hasn’t yet peaked. Members of these large congregations tend to give less money and participate in fewer church activities, he said. The large congregations are attracting members from medium-size congregations, not from outside of the church, he said. Congregations with less than 100 members are also growing, according to Chaves.

Greater ethnic diversity in predominantly white congregations
The number of completely white congregations accounted for 25 percent of the total number of congregations in 1998 but has since declined to 11 percent. There are few of what Chaves called “deeply diverse” congregations but rather many white congregations with a “smattering” of other ethnicities. This trend, he said, “has staying power” whose implications are worth pondering. Even in congregations with those “smatterings” are changed by the membership of non-white congregants, he said. “Church works differently and preachers preach differently,” Chaves said.

Aging of both clergy and congregants
Only one third of all churchgoers belong to congregations with clergy who are younger than 50, according to Chaves. Meanwhile, the number of congregants who were older than 60 has increased from 29 percent in 1998 to 37 percent now. And whereas 30 percent were younger than 35 in 1998, that rate has declined to 25 percent.

Greater gender inclusion
While Chaves said there is evidence of more congregations being open to being led by women, only 11 percent have female clergy leaders.

Greater sexual orientation inclusion
This trend tends to reflect cultural changes, Chaves said. That reflection includes variation across denominations.

The data Chaves presented come from the National Congregational Survey, which has been ongoing since 1998.

Matthew Price, CPG senior vice president for research and data, discussed how the Episcopal Church’s demographics fit into the picture Chaves painted. In 1967, when CPG celebrated its 50th anniversary, the so-called “traditional model” for clergy leadership was the norm, Price suggested. Clergy were employed full time by a single Episcopal Church employer. He rarely had his service interrupted and always saw his salary increase. Once he retired, he rarely did regular work in the church.

Today, only 58 percent of clergy now fit into that model, Price said, but 44 percent wish that they could take advantage of the aspects of that traditional model. Instead, they work with in a model that typically features part-time work for multiple church employers along with some employment outside the church. Many clergy have their ministerial service interrupted for many different reasons. Their compensation does not necessarily increase over time, and many clerics continue to work after their retirement.

In fact, 58 percent of retired clergy younger than 72 still serve in come capacity, and 95 percent of retired vocational deacons do the same, Price said. “For many parishes, this is a lifeline,” he added.

Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary, said 88 percent of VTS Master of Divinity graduates over the last five years have found jobs centered in the more traditional model of ministry Price described. The average age of its class is now 32, which is a decline from recent years. The graduates VTS sends to the church, he said, have “energy and passion.”

“And they believe in the church; they’re impressed with the Episcopal Church,” he added. “I think they will make a difference over the next 30 years.”

So, he said, while the school does not seem to have a placement problem, it does have a recruitment problem, which he attributed in part to a vicious cycle of stories of decline that prompt some people to reject the possibility of a career in the church. That rejection can, in turn, add more stories of decline.

The second panel, titled “Investing for Positive Impact,” discussed ways in which CPG invests some of its money to achieve measurable social and environmental impacts alongside competitive financial returns. Speaking on that issue were Casey C. Clark, Glenmede Corp. director of sustainable and impact investing; Michele Giddens, co-founder, Bridges Fund Management; Meredith Jenkins, Trinity Church Wall Street chief investment officer; Solomon Owayda, founding partner, Mozaic Capital; and Alan Snoddy, managing director, Church Pension Fund.

Participants were encouraged to think about how they, too, can invest in ways that bring a good financial return while doing good in the world. That goal of “doing good in the world,” Giddens suggested, can come by way of investing to encourage change as well as the more traditional goal of socially responsible investing, of refusing to invest in business perceived to harm people and the world. Examples would be tobacco companies and weapons manufacturing.

Mary Kate Wold, CPG’s chief executive officer and president who moderated both discussions, also noted that, when needed, the fund advocates for “better behavior” by businesses in which it invests – by means of shareholder resolutions and, sometimes, “just a constant badgering that may go on for years.” It tries to convince companies why CPG’s stances that are aligned with the Episcopal Church’s values are also good business decisions.

Clark of Glenmede commended the efforts that Wold described, saying if every investor made decisions that echoed what CPG did, “there would be enormous impact.”

And Giddens of Bridges Fund Management said such investing philosophies are still a minority school of thought “and there’s still a lot of to fight for.” CPG’s investment decisions, she said, especially in the arena of socially responsible investing, serve as a signal to other investors, encouraging them to take the same steps.

This video was shown during the second session as an illustration of CPG’s social responsible investing efforts.

Additional Issues and Insights events will take place in Minneapolis (Nov. 3), Houston (Jan. 24) and San Francisco (Feb. 7). The conversations are especially meant for clergy and those who serve the Episcopal Church professionally, wardens and vestry members, according to a press release. Each event will follow the same pattern as the New York one, with the two panel discussions.

About CPG

Canon I.8 of the Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons (page 41 here) authorizes the Church Pension Fund provide retirement, health, and life insurance benefits to clergy and lay employees of the Episcopal Church. With approximately $13 billion in assets, CPF and its affiliated companies are known collectively the Church Pension Group. CPG also offers property and casualty insurance as well as book and music publishing, including the official worship materials of the Episcopal Church such as The Book of Common Prayer and The Hymnal 1982

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

NYC grassroots racial reform network lives out ‘Beloved Community’ mission

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 6:39pm

Rahson Johnson (right), a member of the Circles of Support advisory board, spoke to the crowd as moderator Dawn Jewel Fraser (left) listened at the Fit the Description interactive film series and discussion Oct. 24, at St. Philips Episcopal Church in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City’s northern Manhattan borough. Photo: Amy Sowder/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Rahson Johnson stood behind the microphone, in front of the ornate altar at St. Philips Episcopal Church in Harlem, the northern Manhattan neighborhood in New York City. He looked at more than 200 people filling the pews on the evening of Oct. 24, recalling two critical moments as a 16-year-old growing up in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.

The first critical moment: His friends told him to get the gun from his apartment.

He did, and they played around, doing nothing, really. The police came by. On instinct, Johnson ran, so he was chased. He tossed the gun in a flower pot and ran more. Police tackled him, beat him up and arrested him, telling him he was no good, even though he turned out not to be the suspect they were looking for.

Regardless of his noncriminal past, Johnson fit the description.

Attendees heard and offered all sorts of perspectives at the evening’s #KnowJusticeHarlem, a film and interactive discussion brought by the Fit the Description series organized by the Circles of Support Advisory board, which is comprised of formerly incarcerated people, including Johnson. Circles of Support is a local Harlem re-entry partnership that cultivates leadership among the formerly incarcerated, their families and faith leaders to strengthen communities.

The second critical moment Johnson recalled at the event was the day he returned from a harrowing seven days at Riker’s Island Prison Complex. Those same neighborhood kids put another gun in his hand. What did he do? Johnson took it. Not long afterward, Johnson was jailed again, this time for 23 years, on armed robbery charges.

“Did I deserve to be put in prison? Yes,” Johnson told the crowd. “Did I deserve to be treated by the police the way I was? Probably not.”

Maybe if there was more support for people re-entering society after their prison release, Johnson’s repeated criminal activity might not have happened. Maybe if the relationships, procedure and accountability between police of any color and black men in particular were better, the first incident wouldn’t have happened, or the situation wouldn’t have escalated to the point of arrest.

These points were worth a deep-dive conversation.

“Think of the ways people have assumed you have fit the description, and think of the ways you fit others into a description,” discussion moderator Dawn Jewel Fraser told the crowd. Later, she said: “We realize this conversation is only a first step.”

Left to right: Rashon Johnson, the Rev. Matt Heyd, Lamont Bryant, Thomas Edwards, the Rev. Mary Fouke and Barbara Barron participated in the Fit the Description interactive film series and discussion Oct. 24, at St. Philips Episcopal Church in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City’s Manhattan borough. Photo: Angela James

Many of the children and adults who attended the event have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system and mass incarceration. Several of the men from the film were there to speak to the gathering. In the film, eight men — four black police officers and four black civilians from New York City — met for the first time, face-to-face, to talk about the relationship between police and black men, sharing stories of their experiences, feelings and motivations behind their actions.

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry for racial reconciliation, evangelism and creation care, sat in the first-row pew. Looking at the “awesome” crowd, Sellers was overjoyed at seeing Curry’s “Becoming Beloved Community” initiative on racial reconciliation in action.

Many Episcopal churches are engaged in re-entry programs in which the mentors and mentees serve and change each other for the better, she said. Also, the Episcopal Church is about to put together an advisory group on criminal justice ministries to help more churches figure out how to engage in these efforts.

“This is not only a chance to talk about Beloved Community, but to act on it,” Spellers said. “Unfortunately, our church has benefitted so much from systems of injustice and oppression. We have a special responsibility to dismantle those systems of privilege.”

Left to right: Thomas Edwards, Clifton Hollingsworth Jr., the Rev. Stephanie Spellers and Harold Thomas participated in the Fit the Description interactive film series and discussion Oct. 24, at St. Philips Episcopal Church in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City’s Manhattan borough. Photo: Amy Sowder/Episcopal News Service

The Oct. 24 program received support also from the J.C. Flowers Foundation, the Episcopal Charities of New York and a network of seven Episcopal churches in Manhattan committed to the kind of criminal justice reform that’s rooted in the lived realities of actual people with the highest amounts of police contact. The J.C. Flowers Foundation works with a wide range of partners to solve critical health and social problems affecting hard-to-reach communities. The foundation looks for communities often overlooked by traditional donors.

Founded by Episcopalians Anne and Chris Flowers, the organization was born after they saw the malaria epidemic up close on an Africa trip in 2004 and then started the highly successful Nets for Life program, said Susan Lassen, the foundation’s executive director. Then the Flowerses used the same model to involve churches and communities in Harlem, training people and allowing them to do the work to help themselves. “It’s a unique way of looking at sustainable change,” Lassen said.

Left to right: Dawn Jewel Fraser, Clifton Hollingsworth Jr., Harold Thomas, Thomas Edwards and Rahson Johnson participated in an interactive panel discussion at the Fit the Description interactive film series and discussion Oct. 24, at St. Philips Episcopal Church in Harlem. Photo: Amy Sowder/Episcopal News Service

Change happens on a church-by-church basis.

St. Philips Church has been working on improving post-incarceration re-entry from a number of different angles, said the Rev. Chloe Breyer, associate priest at St. Philips, as well as executive director of the Interfaith Center of New York.

Volunteers provide drinks, snacks and “cheerful conversation” for people checking in with their parole officers at the Harlem Community Justice Center. They often have to wait for hours. Missing parole is a common reason men get sent back to prison, and men 18 to 35 years old are at the highest risk of becoming repeat offenders, she said.

“Our pastors can be a listening ear and offer spiritual support, but not from a sectarian point of view,” Breyer said. She pointed to an evaluation of the Harlem center’s Reentry Court, which revealed a 19 percent reduction in re-convictions among participants three years following their release from prison.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Manhattanville hosts support network meetings for formerly imprisoned folks, offering resources for people with no place to live, no food or no medicine, plus community gardening and movie nights. The congregation has members who were formerly incarcerated.

“There’s a need in the community to get support right after they get out of prison,” said the Rev. Mary Foulke, rector of St. Mary’s. “The cards are stacked against them, and we as a church can help make things easier for them.”

— Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn. She can be reached at amysowderepiscopalnews@gmail.com.

New bells dedicated at memorial church in Belgium

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 2:06pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A church built in the 1920s in memory of the 500,000 British and Commonwealth troops who died during the battles for Ypres during the first World War has finally been completed with the installation and dedication of a ring of eight bells. St George’s Memorial Church was built in the Belgium town of Ypres, which was all-but flattened during the war.

Read the full article here.

Australian Anglicans urge state government to drop euthanasia bill

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 1:57pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Melbourne Diocesan Synod has urged politicians in the Australian state of Victoria not to legalize medically assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill will be debated in the 40-member Legislative Council – the upper chamber of the state parliament – next week.

Read the full article here.

Former financial PR chief to head Church of England’s communications team

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 12:38pm

Tashi Lassalle will become director of communications for the Church of England next month. Photo: Church of England

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church of England has appointed Tashi Lassalle, a former head of communications for insurance market Lloyds of London and private equity firm Actis as its new director of communications. When she takes up her post next month she will head a team of 14 people, including senior professionals who take the lead on safeguarding, finance, digital and media; as well as communications training and special projects. The Church House communications unit serves the Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board; and works with separate communications teams serving the Archbishops of Canterbury and York at Lambeth and Bishopthorpe Palaces, and the regional dioceses.

Read the full article here.

Archbishop Welby to present ACC Reformation resolution to Catholic and Lutheran leaders

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 12:30pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A resolution from the Anglican Consultative Council welcoming an agreed Roman Catholic-Lutheran declaration on justification will feature at a service in Westminster Abbey next week. The service, on Oct. 31 will mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses, critical of Catholic teaching on justification, to the door of All Saints’ Church – the Schlosskirche – in Wittenberg, Germany.

Read the full article here.

Episcopalians urge protection of Arctic refuge as Congress moves toward OK’ing drilling

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 12:12pm

Porcupine Caribou Herd in the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, with the Brooks Range mountains in the distance to the south. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians are rallying against oil drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, as the U.S. Senate takes initial steps toward opening part of the refuge in Alaska to energy exploration.

The developments in the Senate come just a month after Episcopal leaders the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops expressed renewed interest in the issue at their fall meeting, which was held in Fairbanks, Alaska. The bishops issued a letter to the church urging action on environmental and racial justice.

“Those who live closest to the land and depend on the health of this ecosystem are marginalized by the forces of market valuation,” Diocese of Alaska Mark Lattime said Oct. 20 in an emailed statement to Episcopal News Service. “I am proud of the Episcopal Church for its abiding stance in support of the Gwich’in people; the preservation of ANWR for future generations; and for the health of the planet.”

The Gwich’in, mostly Episcopalians because of the church’s early missionary work in the region, are one of the largest Native communities in Alaska. Those who live in the small villages of the Alaskan Interior still follow many of the traditional subsistence ways of life that their families have for thousands of years, though that lifestyle now faces environmental, cultural and economic threats.

The fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge loomed large during the bishops’ time in Alaska in late September. They learned that the Gwich’in are trying to protect the part of the refuge that serves as a major caribou birthing ground and is considered sacred by Native Alaskans. The caribou, hunted only after the herds migrate south, are a critical part of the villagers’ diet.

“People actually had the wisdom to set aside some areas so they would not be open to development, and they really are crucial to future generations,” Princess Johnson, a Gwich’in activist and an Episcopalian, told the bishops during one of their sessions.

No drilling has yet been approved, but on Oct. 19, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, led by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, preserved a measure in the Republicans’ proposed budget that calls on the committee to find $1 billion in revenue through federal leasing. That measure doesn’t specify drilling in Alaska, though the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the most likely target.

“It is the best option, and it’s on the table,” Murkowski, a Republican, said, according to a Washington Post report.  “It’s about jobs, and job creation. It’s about wealth and wealth creation.”

Lattime, in his statement to ENS, acknowledged the economic benefits of drilling, but the “true cost of these benefits” – to the Gwich’in and to the environment – “is never accurately measured.”

“We are called by our baptism to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being,” he continued. “The value of the ANWR ecosystem and the Gwich’in people is beyond measure, and we have a moral stewardship obligation to recognize this value and to preserve it.”

The Episcopal Church has long been on record opposing drilling in the refuge, as stated in a 1991 resolution of General Convention. A 2012 resolution further detailed the church’s support for “communities who bear the greatest burdens of global climate change: indigenous peoples, subsistence communities, communities of color, and persons living in deprivation around the world,” and for “fence-line” communities, “those suffering in body and spirit for their proximity to the extraction and processing of fossil fuels.”

The bishops’ Sept. 26 letter to the church urged Episcopalians to join them in “prayerful listening” on the issues of environmental and racial justice while identifying the fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as one focal point.

“God calls us to listen to each other with increased attention. It is only with unstopped ears and open eyes that our hearts and lives will be changed,” the bishops said in the letter. “It is through the reconciling love of God in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit that we and the Earth itself will be healed.”

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations has stepped up its advocacy on the Arctic refuge as has lawmakers have renewed the possibility of drilling in its 19.6 million acres, which only Congress can approve.

“This sacred land is under threat,” Office of Government Relations said in a Sept. 27 policy alert to its network asking Episcopalians to contact their representatives. “The Episcopal Church has long stood by the Gwich’in, defending their right to exist and feed themselves. As the bishops of the church call us to prayer, education, and reconciliation, we must also act.”

Environmental conservation groups also are mobilizing this week and are asking supporters of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to attend one of a series of “day of action” events, starting Oct. 23 in Staten Island, New York. A national day of action rally is scheduled Oct. 24 in Washington, D.C., led by the Gwich’in Steering Committee.

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

Come, labor on: Program, Budget & Finance begins triennial budget work

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:04pm

Barbara Miles, chair of the General Convention’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance, makes a list of the subcommittees into which the members split up to drill down into the 2019-21 budget. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] The Episcopal Church’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance, or PB&F, has begun its share of the many months of work that will result in a 2019-21 budget being proposed to the 79th General Convention in July 2018.

PB&F members spent the bulk of their Oct. 21-23 meeting at the Maritime Institute Conference Center getting a crash course on the church’s finances, the current shape of the “working draft budget” being crafted by the Executive Council and the challenges both the council and committee face to produce a canonically required balanced budget for convention’s consideration.

There is an $8 million deficit in the current working draft, the Rev. Mally Lloyd, a member of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission, or FFM, told PB&F. The gap between anticipated revenue and the spending asked for by the churchwide staff and council’s joint standing committees stood at just more than $12 million when FFM began its work at council’s Oct. 18-21 meeting.

The version of Executive Council’s working draft budget that PB&F studied during their meeting is far, far from final.

“It is not the budget we will receive in February and it is not the budget that we will propose in July,” Diocese of Maine Bishop Steve Lane, PB&F’s vice chair, warned. “There is not a budget until General Convention acts.”

Episcopal Church Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer N. Kurt Barnes explains the church’s financial operations Oct. 22 to members of the General Convention’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

Council’s Finances for Mission committee crafts a draft budget for the entire council to approve and forward to PB&F, which General Convention charges with crafting a further-refined budget to propose to bishops and deputies. That draft budget hand-off must happen by early February 2018.

Lloyd, who is also a PB&F member, told the committee Oct. 22 that council’s goal is to produce a balanced draft budget but, she noted, council is not required to do so. Lloyd said she and FFM chair Tess Judge are confident that they can “get it under control and into balance.”

“But there may be some hurt in doing that,” she said, adding that “there’s so much good ministry going on that whatever’s left is going to be really top-notch.”

Both Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings during its opening session the evening of Oct. 21 thanked the committee ahead of time for its willingness to, in Jennings words, “wrestle with a budget that has big dreams and limited resources, and which we are agreeing to trust one another more than perhaps we have in many decades.”

Jennings said the committee faces such questions as whether “our modest expectation for increased income [will] be able to fund our vastly increased hope for mission and ministry across the church and far beyond” and what it will cost “in other areas of ministry to follow what we believe God is calling the Episcopal Church to be in today’s world.”

Curry placed the committee’s budget work in an even larger context. The world, he said, is undergoing “profound shifts” religiously, culturally and politically.

“There’s a lot at stake and the Episcopal Church in this context matters, it matters profoundly,” Curry said.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that the Episcopal Church has witness, has a role and a message that reflects the Jesus of Nazareth that may well be just right for these times,” the presiding bishop said.

He told the committee that “following the way of Jesus as best we can discern it – for our time, for our church, in our cultural context – is how the Episcopal Church makes its witness, makes its mark, and matters.”

PB&F should strive, Curry said, to craft a budget that “looks like the movement of Jesus through the Episcopal Church in our world.”

Curry asked the committee to honor Scripture’s promise that if a group of people puts Christ at its center, they will be able to discern God’s call.

“Brothers and sister, if we do that, that will send a signal to this church that will have a ripple effect throughout the church and through the church to the world,” he said.

Curry then invited PB&F members to “come, labor on,” reciting the words of the hymn written by Jane Laurie Borthwick, to whom Jennings is related.

Crafting the budget

The Episcopal Church’s three-year budgets are funded primarily by pledges from the church’s 109 dioceses and three regional areas. Each year’s annual giving in the three-year budget is based on a diocese’s income two years earlier, minus $150,000. For the 2016-18 budget, dioceses were asked to give 18 percent in 2016, 16.5 percent in 2017 and 15 percent in 2018.

Diocesan commitments for 2016 and 2017 are here.

Not all dioceses pay the full asking for a variety of reasons. Fifty-six dioceses committed to paying the full asking of 16.5 percent or more in 2017. Another 22 have pledged between pledged between 12 percent and 15 percent.

At the 2015 meeting of General Convention, bishops and deputies made the current voluntary diocesan budgetary asking system mandatory, beginning with the 2019-21 budget cycle, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Without getting a waiver, a diocese that does not pay the full assessment will be unable to get grants or loans from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

(The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business, and carries out mission.)

Diocese of Maine Bishop Steve Lane preaches during Eucharist Oct. 22 before the General Convention’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance began a full day of learning about current working draft of the Episcopal Church’s 2019-21 budget. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Jennings said that council’s Assessment Review Committee, which will handle waiver requests, and all those involved with the budget process have pledged to have “great compassion and empathy for those cases of hardship.”

“But we also know that there’s a spectrum of understanding of what hardship means,” she added.

The current version of the 2019-21 budget is based on anticipated $128.7 million in revenue, including $86.7 million in mandatory assessments of 15 percent of dioceses’ annual income. The diocesan assessments total also assumes .5 percent growth in dioceses’ annual operating income.

However, the current draft anticipates that some dioceses will get full or partial waivers, up to a “maximum possible” $6.8 million, according to Lloyd. Thus, the likely diocesan contribution is pegged at $79.9 million. Each 1 percent in diocesan giving equals roughly $5.8 million, she said.

Jennings noted that the annual asking of dioceses stood at 21 percent five years ago. She said the projected revenue for 2019-21 is based in part on the assumption that dioceses that have been paying more than that will decrease their giving to 15 percent.

Have the dioceses that pay less than 15 percent “spent the last three years preparing to make this commitment to our common mission and life together?” Jennings asked. “Time will tell.”

Lane said that when the then-voluntary asking was 21 percent, the average percentage of actual contributions was 12.3 percent. A multi-year conversation resulted in “broad agreement across the church that 15 percent is a reasonable target,” he said. The pattern of diocesan giving over the 2016-18 triennium shows that many of the lesser-giving dioceses were moving closer to 15 percent, Lane pointed out.

“There’s still a number of dioceses that aren’t going to reach 15 percent but, many of them are working on it in good faith,” he said.

Jennings said that for PB&F “to make solid assumptions about income in this budget, you have to decide if we trust one another to keep the commitments we made at the last General Convention.”

PB&F Chair Barbara Miles said she hopes committee members “will think of this as a ministry and not just a job.”

“Our task is to listen and to be kind. Don’t try to argue with them. Just hear them. Then, we will try to do the work of budgeting here,” she said.

As the meeting closed on Oct. 23, Miles and Lane asked the PB&F members to summarize their goals for the process.

Diocese of New Jersey Bishop William “Chip” Stokes noted that budget committees often get into the mundane” out of necessity.

“But I am committed to a budget grounded in Jesus Christ that does not accept a narrative of decline for the church, that is driven by our commitment to the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, the mission and ministry of reconciliation that the world desperately needs,” he said.

Members of the committee nodded their heads as he added, “I hope that every decision, everything we look at, is driven by that concern.”

The General Convention’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance has 27 members, one bishop and two members of the House of Deputies, either lay or clerical, from each of the church’s nine provinces. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

Here are the next steps in the budget process
  • FFM will release its working draft budget to the church along with a narrative to explain its assumptions and construction in mid-November for comment. It likely will be posted on the General Convention Office’s website.
  • FFM will revise the budget based on comments from council members, PB&F and the wider church, and have a final draft budget ready for council’s consideration during its Jan. 22-24, 2018, meeting.
  • According to the joint rules of General Convention (II.10.c.ii), council must give its draft budget to PB&F no less than four months before the start of General Convention (essentially by February of convention year). PB&F will meet next from Feb. 5-7, 2018, to begin work on that draft budget.
  • Council’s draft budget has typically been released to the church as well.
  • PB&F uses the draft budget and any legislation passed by or being considered by General Convention to create a final budget proposal. Convention legislative committees and PB&F will begin meeting in Austin, Texas, on July 3, 2018, ahead of the July 5-13 meeting of convention in the Texas capital city. There will be at least one open hearing, currently set for the evening of July 5.
  • PB&F’s budget must be presented to a joint session of the houses of Bishops and Deputies no later than the third day before convention’s scheduled adjournment. According to the draft convention schedule, that presentation is set to take place at 10:30 p.m. CDT on July 11.
  • The two houses then debate and vote on the budget separately. Both houses must approve the same version of the budget, which takes effect at the beginning of 2019.
  • Executive Council crafts annual budgets out of the spending plan that General Convention passes as the triennial budget. Typically, council adjusts each of the three annual budgets based on changing income and expenses.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

Anglicans get boost in Doha as potential readers begin training

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:42pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Four years after their church was consecrated, Anglicans in the Qatari capital Doha have begun a Church Learning Group as members begin the process of vocational discernment. Many of those taking part in the new group hope to be selected for training as readers at a selection conference which will be held in Spring 2018.

Read the full article here.

Gender justice on agenda as Anglican Women’s Network meets in London

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:39pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Last week, the steering group for the International Anglican Women’s Network met in London to discuss the many issues facing women throughout the world. Hailing from around the Anglican Communion, these women used theological and biblical perspectives to discuss far reaching issues such as gender-based violence, human trafficking, and sustainable economic empowerment.

Read the full article here.

Eastern Michigan elects Bishop Cate Waynick as bishop provisional

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:56am

[Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan] The Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan elected the Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick to serve as bishop provisional of the diocese during the annual convention on Oct. 20, in Bay City, Michigan.

In a letter to the diocese, the standing committee celebrates the election saying, “It is with great joy that we announce that the Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick has been elected bishop provisional of the Diocese of Eastern Michigan. We are excited to be taking this next step in our diocesan transition and are thrilled to be working with Bishop Waynick as our companion and pastor along the way.”

The election comes after nearly six months without a sitting bishop, following the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley’s resignation to become bishop for pastoral development of The Episcopal Church, a position on the presiding bishop’s staff. 

As bishop provisional, Waynick will serve half-time for one year, spending about two weeks per month in the diocese. She will perform all Episcopal functions including ordinations and confirmations, as well as all other traditional duties of a bishop, including staff supervision, pastoral care for clergy and more. She will also work closely with leaders of the diocese as they begin a formal study process of diocesan mission and ministry.

With her election, Waynick becomes the first female bishop of any Episcopal diocese in the State of Michigan.

Waynick served as the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis for 20 years before her retirement in 2017. She began her ordained ministry in the Diocese of Michigan, serving churches in Bloomfield Hills and Pontiac before being elected bishop in 1997. In addition to her ministry in Indianapolis, Waynick served on several General Convention legislative committees, on the abundance committee of the Church Pension Fund and on the task force to revise Title IV Disciplinary Canons. She continues to serve as president of the disciplinary board for bishops and as a governor of the Anglican Centre in Rome. 

The Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan is made up of 43 congregations located in the northeast lower peninsula of the state.

Executive Council ponders, debates next triennial General Convention budget

Sat, 10/21/2017 - 8:41pm

Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny speaks during a break in the Executive Council meeting Oct. 19 with Tess Judge (center), chair of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission, and committee member the Rev. Mally Lloyd. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council came face to face with the realities of the 2019-21 triennial budget during its fall meeting and pledged to share the burden of eventually bringing a balanced budget to 2018 meeting of General Convention.

There is an $8 million deficit in the current “working draft” of a budget which will eventually need the approval of the 2018 meeting of General Convention, the Rev. Mally Lloyd, a member of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission told the council. The gap between anticipated revenue and the spending asked for by the churchwide staff and council’s joint standing committees stood at just more than $12 million when FFM began its work at this meeting.

The gap comes even as anticipated income is nearly $3.7 million higher than that expected the 2016-18 triennial budget. Major sources of income include dioceses, an investment income draw, income from renting out space in the Church Center in Manhattan and a planned “annual appeal” beginning in 2018.

Expenses for 2019-21 assume a 3 percent increase in staff salaries over three years and a 9 percent increase in staff health insurance costs.

Lloyd led the council through the working draft, answered questions and heard pleas from some members to restore cuts already made. She acknowledged that council members all have line items that “are close to your heart” but she urged them to “think about the ministry of the whole and the work of the whole.”

“We’re trying to juggle and balance all these different areas to make one whole reflection of the values, the theology and the love of the Episcopal Church,” she said.

The budget is based on an anticipated $128.7 million in revenue, including $86.7 million in mandatory assessment payments of 15 percent of dioceses’ annual income. However, the current draft anticipates that some dioceses will get full or partial waivers of those payments, up to a “maximum possible” $6.8 million, according to Lloyd. The diocesan payments amount also assumes  .5 percent growth in those dioceses’ annual operating income. Thus, the likely diocesan contribution is pegged at $79.9 million.

Mally Lloyd leads the #Episcopal Church’s Executive Council through a discussion of the current draft of the 2018-2021 budget #excoun pic.twitter.com/YZsTJjGj1j

— Frank Logue (@franklogue) October 21, 2017

The Episcopal Church’s three-year budget is funded primarily by pledges from the church’s 109 dioceses and three regional areas. Each year’s annual giving in the three-year budget is based on a diocese’s income two years earlier, minus $150,000. For the 2016-18 budget, dioceses were asked to give 18 percent in 2016, 16.5 percent in 2017 and 15 percent in 2018.

Diocesan commitments for 2016 and 2017 are here.

Not all dioceses pay the full asking for a variety of reasons. Fifty-six dioceses committed to paying the full asking or more in 2017.

At the 2015 meeting of General Convention, bishops and deputies made the current voluntary diocesan budgetary asking system mandatory for the 2019-21 budget cycle, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Without getting a waiver, a diocese that does not pay the full assessment will be unable to get grants or loans from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

(The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business, and carries out mission.)

Lloyd said additional income could be gleaned by increasing the percentage amount assessed to dioceses from the anticipated 15 percent to 16 percent. A 1 percent hike would bring in an additional roughly $5.8 million, she said. The council could press to have more dioceses pay the full assessment, regardless of the amount, she added.

The working draft also includes a $4.6 million contingency fund, which General Convention’s  Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) requested to help it deal with unexpected convention resolutions that request funding. As much as $1.5 million of that fund could go toward the costs of convention’s possible decision to begin to revise the Book of Common Prayer. Lloyd said the contingency fund could be reduced.

She warned that the budget could not count on drawing money from the church’s short-term reserves, which she termed “dangerously low” at $2.3 million. That fund ought to have $9.5 million, Lloyd said.

Evangelism advocates on council call for reconsideration

The Rev. Susan Brown Snook, chair of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Local Ministry and Mission, told council that money for evangelism would be cut by 41 percent in this version of the budget. At the same time, the presiding bishop’s office budget would increase by 49 percent and governance costs would go up by 39 percent, she said.

Snook sponsored Resolution D005 at General Convention in 2015 to set up a church-planting network and fellow council member, the Rev. Frank Logue convinced that same meeting of convention to add $2.8 million to the 2016-2018 budget for evangelism work.

That latter allocation was funded from an additional .6 percent draw on investment income, making the current draw 5.67 percent. The church’s investment committee has asked that the next budget use a 4.5 percent draw, a request that Lloyd said FFM decided it could not honor without creating an even bigger deficit. The current working draft sets the draw at 5 percent.

In the working draft, money for evangelism would go from the $5.9 million allocated in the 2016-18 budget to $3.5 million. Money for racial justice and reconciliation would remain roughly the same at $9.4 million and the creation care budget would go from $650,000 to $740,000.

Evangelism efforts account for 2.6 percent of total expenses and cost for the church’s stated three current priorities of evangelism, racial justice and reconciliation and creation care account for less than 10 percent of the budget, Snook said.

“We do no need to be a church in decline anymore,” she said. “We need to be a church that goes out boldly.”

The Very Rev. Brian Baker, a FFM member, argued that the church’s recent effort to plant new churches is working. “This is the first time in my 27 years as a priest that the Episcopal Church is finally doing evangelism. We are planting new churches,” he said, noting that more than 50 new ministries had recently been started. “We got this seed money of a few million dollars to see if we could do it and we’re doing it.”

The church planting efforts approved by the 2015 convention are “one of the solutions to the dire statistics that we’re always faced with,” Baker said. “I’m asking all of the other committees to look at your budgets and see how can we support this piece of what the Episcopal Church has been trying to solve for so long.”

Council then met in executive session to discuss the draft for nearly an hour.

“That executive session was really important, helpful, forward-thinking, a positive, honest conversation that can help us move forward,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said when council reconvened. “We’ve got decisions to make but we are going to make good decisions and we’re going to make them together. This council made a commitment that we’re all in this together.”

Curry said he told council members during their closed session that Jesus fed the 5,000 because “they all worked together and everybody ate, and that’s the attitude [with which] we’re going into this budget.”

He stressed that the current version is an unfinished working document. “So, when it goes out there, you almost have to label it: ‘This is the innards of the sausage,’ ” he said.

General Convention Executive Officer the Rev. Michael Barlowe, left, and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies and Executive Council vice chair, listen as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry makes a point during a news conference held after the Executive Council concluded its Oct. 18-21 meeting. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Curry noted during a news conference after the meeting ended that FFM had already managed to add back about $300,000 into evangelism programs, acknowledging that the move “doesn’t get it up to the previous level.” He also said that there is more evangelism work funded in the budget “than what is just technically there under evangelism” line items.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies and Executive Council vice chair, noted that the current version of the budget adds $800,000 to the presiding bishop office budget for the bishop of the Navajoland Area Mission to relieve that person of some fund-raising obligations and so that more attention can be paid to building up the church in that area.

General Convention Executive Officer the Rev. Michael Barlowe suggested that a move council took on Oct. 21, while not slotted into the 2019-21 budget, was an example of the council’s investment in evangelism.

Council agreed to aid the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin by forgiving $6.8 million in loans and accrued interest. In return, the diocese will pay the DFMS $1 million by the end of the year; fund the cost of remaining property litigation along with all costs of repair, lease termination and maintenance of recovered properties, including the costs of selling any of them; and fully pay the costs of having a bishop. The diocese also agreed to begin paying its full assessment in 2019.

It has been nearly 10 years since the then-leaders of Central California Valley diocese voted to disaffiliate with the Episcopal Church over the ordination of women and gay clergy and issues of biblical authority. Barlowe said the church first tried to reconcile with the people who left and later turned to litigation to recover church property.

Council member Russ Randle, while earlier presenting the loan forgiveness resolution, said Episcopalians “faithfully persevered” through what turned out to be nearly a decade of eventually successful property litigation. There are now 25 properties that will be sold and 21 “viable” congregations, he said, but the latter are struggling financially. There are two paid full-time clergy in the diocese, along with retired clergy and clergy who work full-time but earn part-time salaries. Randle called the loan forgiveness a “significant investment in this diocese.”

Next budget steps

As Curry and FFM members stressed, the budget is far from final. PB&F convened on the evening of Oct. 21 at the Maritime Institute Conference Center, where council has been meeting, to discuss the working draft and the budget process.

Soon after PB&F’s meeting concludes on Oct. 23, FFM will release the working draft budget to the church along with a narrative to explain its assumptions and construction. It will be posted on the General Convention Office’s website.

FFM will revise the budget based on comments from council members, PB&F and the wider church, and have a final draft budget ready for council’s consideration during its Jan. 22-24, 2017 meeting.

According to the joint rules of General Convention (II.10.c.ii), council must give its draft budget to PB&F no less than four months before the start of General Convention (essentially by February of convention year). PB&F will meet next from Feb. 5-7, 2017, to begin work on that draft budget.

PB&F uses the draft budget and any legislation passed by or being considered by General Convention to create a final budget proposal. That budget must be presented to a joint session of the houses of Bishops and Deputies no later than the third day before convention’s scheduled adjournment. According to the draft convention schedule, that presentation is set to take place at 10:30 p.m. CDT on July 11.

The two houses then debate and vote on the budget separately. Both houses must approve the same version of the budget, which takes effect at the beginning of 2018.

Executive Council crafts annual budgets out of the spending plan that General Convention passes as the triennial budget. Typically, council adjusts each of the three annual budgets based on changing income and expenses. Council did just that on Oct. 21, adjusting the 2018 part of the 2016-2018 triennial budget to reflect an increase in expenses of about $3 million and increased income of about the same amount.

 

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry blesses Pastor Stephen Herr during what was his last Executive Council meeting as the representative from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Herr had just received a certificate of appreciation from the General Convention. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

A summary of resolutions council passed at this meeting is here.

Some council members tweeted from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1). The council comprises 38 members – 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons, and 12 laypeople) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one layperson) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seats and voice but no vote.

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

A summary of Executive Council resolutions

Sat, 10/21/2017 - 7:09pm

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] During its Oct. 18-21 meeting here the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council adopted multiple resolutions that are summarized below.

Executive Council
Accept Audit Committee’s recommendation and approve appointment of Grant Thornton, LLP, to audit the consolidated financial statements of council and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (the name under which the Episcopal Church in incorporated) for years ending Dec. 31, 2017-2019 (EC003).

Advocacy and Networking for Mission
Amend previously passed Resolution AN029 to have third resolve read: “Executive Council calls for an end to the discrimination of individuals with opioid addiction and recognizes that prior discrimination of people with drug addiction has had profound impacts on incarceration, particularly of persons of color.” (AN29a).

Authorize a senior secured line of credit to St. Augustine’s University of $1 million, secured by a deed of trust of certain parcels with a combined appraised value of at least $2.5 million (AN30).

Extend additional $50,000 grant in 2017 to Voorhees College for emergency repair of the college library roof (AN031).

Approve grants recommended by the Advisory Council on the Stewardship of Creation (AN032).

Affirm the need for voters to be represented fairly and equitably, and commit to representation for all Americans in the legislative bodies of the United States; affirm that “one-person-one-vote” means that the votes of people of all races and ethnicities are fairly represented, counted, and accounted for; commit to advocating to ensure fair districting and representation; commit to opposing any form of partisan gerrymandering that has the same effect of racial gerrymandering; commit to advocating against any form of political district mapping that has the effect of diluting the votes of people of color at the statewide and national level (AN033).

Finances for Mission
Establish Trust Fund 1160, Anglican Church of Mexico, as investment account for Anglican Church of Mexico, San Angel, Mexico City, Mexico (FFM083).

Establish Trust Fund 1161, Holy Trinity School of Haiti, as investment account for the Diocese of Haiti, Petion-Ville, Haiti (FFM084).

Set 2018 dividend rate for the DFMS trust fund portfolios available to support the operating budget of DFMS at $1.06 per share based on 5.0% the average year-end market values of the portfolio for the five years ending 2016; set 2018 dividend rate for 2018 for trust funds in the DFMS endowment portfolio that are not available to support the operating budget of DFMS be set at $1.06 per share based on 5.0% the average year-end market values of the portfolio for the five years ending 2016 (FFM085).

Use up to $349,170 of income distributed from Trust Fund 809 during 2017 for educational and theological programs (including continuing education and individual scholarships) as recommended by the Commission on Theological Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (CETALC) at its meeting in Mexico City, Mexico, July 31-Aug. 5, 2017 (FFM086).

Grant $50,000 in increments to be agreed commencing in 2018 to Li-Tim Oi Chinese Ministries in the Diocese of Los Angeles (FFM087).

Adopt revised official travel guidelines for the DFMS (FFM088).

Designate 2018 housing allowances clergy employees of the DFMS (FMM089).

Establish Trust Fund 1162 as investment account for Anamchara Fellowship in Newark, Delaware (FFM091).

Approve the revised 2018 budget for the Episcopal Church (FFM092).

Authorize $119,035 be distributed from Trust Funds of Class 26 be distributed to the Episcopal Church of Liberia for Cuttington University in Suacoco (FFM093).

Beginning with annual appeal by the Office of Development in 2018, receipts from annual appeals are applied to projects already allocated within the DFMS operating budget (FFM094).

Governance and Administration for Mission
Amend Articles VII and VIII of council by-laws to provide for attendance and reporting by the chief legal officer (GAM012).

DFMS to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid family leave (PFL) once fully implemented;  provide employees with a general description of their PFL rights, and in the event of any conflict between this policy and applicable law, employees will be afforded all rights required by law; policy not be construed to confer any express or implied contractual relationship or rights to any employee not expressly provided for by PFL (GAM013).

Governance and Administration for Mission and Finances for Mission
Adopt Leasing Policy and Procedure 2017 to maximize the contribution of its primary real estate asset to the mission and function of DFMS; no plans under consideration for the sale and removal of DFMS from Church Center and because DFMS is unlikely to occupy the entire New York building (GAM_FFM02).

Agree to terms to conclude all outstanding principal ($6,175,000) and accrued interest on all loans extended by the DFMS to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin from 2008 through Dec. 31, 2016; terms include expressing profound appreciation for the steadfastness and perseverance of the people, clergy and loyal congregations of Diocese of San Joaquin through over a decade of legal turmoil, disruption and dispossession from their church homes, and uncertainty, now largely resolved; diocese shall pay $1 million to DFMS by Dec. 31, 2017; diocese shall bear all future costs of litigation, future support of the episcopate, and all costs of repair, lease termination and maintenance of recovered properties, including surplus properties being prepared for sale, as well as all future costs associated with any such sales; diocese shall pay its full assessment to the Episcopal Church beginning in calendar year 2019 (GAM_FFM003).

Local Mission and Ministry
Approves grants recommended by the D005 Advisory Group on Church Planting (LMM012).

World Mission
Ratify the election and re-election of board members for Episcopal Relief and Development (WM027).

Approve 2018 United Thank Offering Grant Focus and Criteria (WM028).

Burundi’s faith leaders renew commitment to peace and reconciliation

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 12:39pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Twelve years after Burundi’s brutal civil war, which resulted in the deaths of more than 300,000 people, the country’s faith leaders have called on the international community to “re-establish good diplomatic relationships” with their government. The call came in a communiqué signed by the Anglican primate of Burundi, Archbishop Martin Nyaboho and the bishop of Bujumbura, Eraste Bigirimana, alongside 18 other faith leaders. It was issued after two days of talks in Arusha, in neighboring Tanzania, on sustaining peace in Burundi, sponsored by the World Council of Churches and the United Nations Office on Genocide Protection and the Responsibility to Protect.

Read the entire article here.

Three Malawians to receive Province of Central Africa’s highest lay honor

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 12:34pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Three women from the Diocese of the Upper Shire in Malawi are to receive the Order of the Epiphany – the highest lay honor of the Anglican Church of Central Africa. The awards will be presented Oct. 21 at a large service at the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul in Mangochi.

Read the full article here.

Episcopalians’ ‘widow’s mite’ is doing mighty work in recent disaster relief

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 5:57pm

Episcopalians are knitted together in a “great chain of strength and assets” inside and outside the church that is responding to recent disasters, Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development senior vice president of programs, tells the Executive Council Oct. 19. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] The Episcopal Church’s roadmap of the Jesus Movement has been guiding Episcopalians in their response to the chain of disasters that have struck the world in the last two months.

“You can see it in that we have various departments of the presiding bishop’s staff, the companion dioceses, Church Insurance, ourselves [at Episcopal Relief & Development], diaspora Episcopalians, friends and good people of faith all working together,” Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development senior vice president of programs, told the Executive Council Oct. 19.

Nelson gave council members an overview of the kinds of work Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting by way of what she called “this great chain of strength and assets” that is enabling Episcopalians to “do much more than we can do alone.” That work includes such efforts as setting up online tools for effected Episcopalians to communicate with each other and keep track of work done and help needed. The organization is also supporting such efforts helping to supply water, tarps, solar batteries, pastoral care, and connecting with other relief and government agencies.

“You can see glimmers of the Jesus Movement when clergy are speaking up at government meetings,” she said, explaining that those clergy members were advocating for their communities. “You can see it in how homeless people are living on church property in the Florida Keys. You can see it in the pastoral care that is being given to the thousands who have lost everything. You can see it in how we are texting and talking and trying to figure out how best to be of support.”

Since early August, Episcopal Relief & Development has been responding, in partnership with local Episcopalians and Anglicans, and other relief agencies, to the effects of:

  • severe flooding in the Indian state of West Bengal after heavy rains in July and August.
  • Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Rockport, Texas, on the barrier islands beyond Corpus Christi on Aug. 25, and then moved northwest to flood the greater Houston area.
  • Hurricane Irma, which pulverized parts of the Leeward Islands as a Category 5 on Sept. 5-6, and then moved north to hit Florida and Georgia.
  • a magnitude 1 earthquake that caused major damage Sept. 19 in central Mexico, including in Mexico City, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Morelos and Puebla.
  • Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 hurricane that tore through the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Sept. 20.
  • wildfires in Northern California that erupted the night of Oct. 8 and are still raging.

“I have been here 18 years and I have never seen anything like this,” Nelson said of her work with Episcopal Relief & Development. “We’re here living in extraordinary times and I think they require extraordinary response from us.”

“We are a widow’s mite,” Nelson acknowledged. “The money we have – and it’s still coming in and everyone’s doing their best – will be nowhere near what is needed. We are the widow’s mite so we really need to think carefully about where that mite goes and how to leverage our relations, how we network into other resources and not think ourselves as the only resource to our churches.”

Nelson urged patience as more and more Episcopalians want to come to hard-hit areas and lend a hand. Those areas will be ready to receive volunteers at various times, based on the situation on the ground. “No one is quite up to it yet,” she said.

Right now, there is a major need for pilots and planes able to fly into areas where air-traffic control systems are not functioning. “We’re looking for clear, leverage-able ways to get supplies into islands that we can trust,” she said.

Nelson also urged Episcopalians to keep their wicks trimmed and their go-bags ready. “I’m really serious,” she said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen next year or tomorrow or with winter storms or whatever. So, think of ourselves and your family, your church, your diocese – how you will stay in touch with each other, how you [could] be [living] by yourself for at least two weeks.

“There is no cavalry. We need to be really mindful of each other.”

#excoun member Jabriel Ballentine tells critical role of #episcopal Diocese of Alabama staying contact w/Virgin Islands in #hurricaneIrma pic.twitter.com/23nc9fuJSF

— Frank Logue (@franklogue) October 19, 2017

Council member the Rev. Jabriel Ballentine tearfully described how Nelson and other Episcopal Relief & Development staff members supported him after Hurricane Irma as he tried to learn the fate of his parents who live in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he was born.

“It was three days, I didn’t know if my parents were alive,” he said, but people from Episcopal Relief & Development kept him company during that time. Ballentine’s mother, Rosalie, is a member of the group’s board and is also the Episcopal Church’s lay member of the Anglican Consultative Council.

“Thank you so much for what you all do,” Ballentine said. “I’ve noticed that it’s a mite but, it’s a mighty mite. And we need more of those.”

Ballantine also asked for the council’s help in remembering that “we’re American – we’re supposed to be anyway – please, we’re Episcopalians, don’t let us be forgotten”

The Rev. John Floberg, council member from North Dakota and supervising priest for three Episcopal congregations at Standing Rock Sioux Nation, received an emotional response from council when he stood and explained to the members how people at powwows honor dancers whose artistry they value. “They put money down at the feet of the dancer,” he said. “That’s what I am about to do.”

Floberg walked to the middle of council’s meeting room, bent down and put money on the floor in front of the podium where Nelson was speaking. His colleagues applauded and followed his example as Nelson continued to answer questions.

During a report from #Episcopal Relief & Development report to #excoun Council Members gave money to support #erd https://t.co/UlCja7Jocx pic.twitter.com/9DCn5AqNbz

— Frank Logue (@franklogue) October 19, 2017

The rest of the meeting

Council’s Oct. 18-21 meeting is taking place at the Maritime Institute Conference Center. Committee meetings will take up most of Oct. 20 and, on Oct. 21, the committees will each report to the full body, proposing resolutions for the full body to consider.

Some council members are tweeting from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1). The council comprises 38 members – 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons, and 12 lay people) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seat and voice but no vote.

Previous ENS coverage is here.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

Nashotah House announces passing of beloved professor

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 4:46pm

[Nashotah House Theological Seminary – Nashotah, Wisconsin] It is with great sadness that Nashotah House Theological Seminary announces the passing of the Rev. Daniel A. Westberg, a professor of ethics and moral theology. Westberg died Oct. 18, in a boating accident on Upper Nashotah Lake.

The Rev. Dr. Daniel A. Westberg. Photo: Nashotah House

A faculty member at Nashotah House since 2000, Westberg was a leading scholar in the area of moral theology. Westberg grew up in Japan, where his parents were missionaries with the Evangelical Covenant Church. While in graduate school in Toronto, Canada, he became an Anglican and experienced a call to ordained ministry. After seminary training and ordination in 1978, he served in the Diocese of Toronto for 10 years, in both rural and city parishes. After the death of his first wife, Lynne, Westberg married Lisa and moved the family temporarily to Oxford, England, where he studied at Oxford University with Oliver O’Donovan and Herbert McCabe and wrote a dissertation on Thomas Aquinas and the virtue of prudence.

From 1990 to 1998, Westberg taught ethics at the University of Virginia, followed by an interim year teaching theology at a seminary in Canada. Since his appointment to the Nashotah House faculty in 2000, Westberg had been the seminary’s professor of ethics and moral theology. His publications include the following books: “Right Practical Reason: Action, Aristotle and Prudence in Aquinas” (Oxford UP, 1994), “Preaching the Lectionary” (3rd ed.; Liturgical Press, 2006) in collaboration with the late Reginald Fuller, and “Renewing Moral Theology: Christian Ethics as Action, Character and Grace” (InterVarsity Press, 2015). He also published extensively in journals such as The Anglican Theological Review, The Thomist and New Blackfriars, as well as several short articles in The New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology (InterVarsity Press, 1995).

“The Rev. Dr. Daniel Westberg was a faithful priest of the Diocese of Milwaukee whose gifts as a teacher were a blessing to us all. Our hearts and prayers go out to his wife Lisa, their family and the community of Nashotah House at this sad time. We pray that Dan will go from strength to strength in God’s perfect kingdom,” stated the Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller, bishop of Milwaukee. 

Westberg is survived by his wife, Lisa, his father, a brother and three sisters, four adult children and three grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending. On the morning of Oct. 19,  Garwood Anderson, acting dean of Nashotah House, gave a homily on the occasion of Westberg’s passing.

Founded in 1842, Nashotah House is a seminary serving the Episcopal Church, Anglican Communion and other ecumenical partners.

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