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Bishop appeals for prayer after attacks on Muslims lead to state of emergency

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 4:14pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The senior Anglican bishop in Sri Lanka has spoken out against an outbreak of violence targeting the Muslim communities in Amapara and Digana in the central district of Kandy. At least two people were killed and 232 homes destroyed in riots sparked by the death of a Sinhala Buddhist man.

Read the full article here.

Episcopalians gather for Day of Lamentation amid calls for action against gun violence

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 12:07pm

Students at Grace Church School participate in a demonstration outside the school in New York on March 14 as part of a nationwide day of student-led activities calling for action against gun violence. Photo: Art Chang, Chang.NYC

[Episcopal News Service] Dozens of Episcopal cathedrals and churches across the country are marking a Day of Lamentation on March 14 for victims of gun violence by offering services, prayers, the tolling of bells and a demonstration at a gun manufacturer one month after the deadly shooting at a Florida high school.

The Episcopal events, coordinated by Bishops United Against Gun Violence, coincide with separate student-led plans for widespread classroom walk-outs and demonstrations that call for political action to address the seemingly relentless outbreak of mass shootings in the U.S

The student demonstrations and Episcopal services were organized in the aftermath of the massacre Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The gunman, a 19-year-old former student, is accused of killing 17 students and adults.

“This is the only nation in the world that has a gun death problem at the rate we do,” New Jersey Bishop Chip Stokes said in his sermon at Eucharist held at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton. “Those of us who oppose it need to get in the face of the problem and cry out in the name of the Lord.”

Episcopal school students are among those participating in the day’s demonstrations. Students in grades 4 through 12 at Grace Church School in New York linked hands to surround the school, and they placed flowers in memory of victims.

#marchforourlives starts by remembering beloved member of @GCSchoolNYC gunned down in front on the school on Nov 1 2017. #remember pic.twitter.com/EEJX8swa3Z

— Art Chang (@achangnyc) March 14, 2018

Students at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Melbourne, Florida, gathered in the morning at the school’s flagpole to pray for gun violence victims and sign a banner of support for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

A student demonstration also was held at Palmer Trinity School in Miami, Florida.

Our students joined thousands of other kids around the nation today to protest gun violence in #NationalWalkOutDay, a movement sparked after the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. pic.twitter.com/R1h2XAlgFS

— Palmer Trinity (@palmertrinity) March 14, 2018

The events at Episcopal cathedrals and churches range from gatherings for silent reflection to full-day activities underscoring the call to action. Episcopal News Service will update its coverage of those events throughout the day. Here are some examples:

Peaceful vigil: In collaboration with interfaith partners and grassroots organizers, Episcopal Church youth and bishops will stand peacefully from 3 to 4 p.m. outside the gates of Smith and Wesson in Springfield, Massachusetts. Speakers will include Episcopal youth along with the bishops of the two Episcopal dioceses in Massachusetts. Smith and Wesson made the guns used in the mass shootings in Parkland, Florida; Aurora, Colorado, and San Bernardino, California.

Bell tolls: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Grinnell, Iowa, and Grace Church in Sheldon, Vermont, are among the churches that will hold simple gatherings featuring 17 tolls of bells, one for each of the Parkland victims.

Services of Lamentation: These services, encouraged by Bishops United, have been scheduled in numerous dioceses throughout the day, both at cathedrals and in individual congregations. Bishops United Against Gun Violence has posted information about some of the services. Participants include Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville, North Carolina; St. James Cathedral in Chicago; Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Des Moines, Iowa; Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Portland, Maine; Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento, California; Christ Church Cathedral, Springfield, Massachusetts, and All Saints Cathedral in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Day of Lamentation: The Diocese of New Jersey’s Day of Prayer, Lamentation, Fasting and Silence began at 6:30 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton and will last until 6:30 p.m. The Diocese of Vermont began at 9 a.m. at Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Burlington with a full schedule of activities, including music and readings, as well as public prayers offered each hour on the hour.

This was my opening reflection for our Day of Lamentation at @EpiscopalVT Cathedral Church of Saint Paul, Burlington. Snow and ice on the roads, but still people are gathering throughout the day for prayer and contemplation. #EndGunViolence #EnoughIsEnough #prayerandpolicy https://t.co/GbzBw20GOd

— Thomas Ely (@BishopVT10) March 14, 2018

The Diocese of Connecticut’s activities kick off at noon with Eucharist at Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford followed by a lunch where community leaders will lead conversations about gun violence. A vigil is schedule for 7 p.m.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service. David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

From the ENS Archives: ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ author Madeleine L’Engle on the power of storytelling

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 2:53pm

Madeleine L’Engle, who wrote more than 60 books ranging from children’s stories to theological reflection, died Sept. 6, 2007, in Litchfield, Connecticut, at 88. She was 88. She is shown here two years earlier. Photo: Square Fish Books

[Episcopal News Service] The March 9 release of Ava DuVernay’s movie version of the classic — and controversial — children’s book “A Wrinkle in Time” has brought a new awareness of author Madeleine L’Engle who was a world-renowned lay Episcopal playwright, poet and author of fiction and non-fiction books.

L’Engle, who wrote more than 60 books ranging from children’s stories to theological reflection, died Sept. 6, 2007, in Litchfield, Connecticut. She was 88. In its obituary of L’Engle, the New York Times reported that “A Wrinkle in Time” was then in its 69th printing and had sold eight million copies. Those figures are sure to increase with the release of the movie.

“A Wrinkle in Time” won the Newberry Award in 1963. L’Engle traveled widely from her home base in New York, leading retreats, lecturing at writers’ conferences and addressing church and student groups abroad. In 1965 she became a volunteer librarian at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York. She later served for many years as writer-in-residence at the cathedral.

“A Wrinkle in time” director Ava Marie DuVernay speaks with Storm Reid, who plays Meg Murry, between scenes. Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

L’Engle’s work expressed her Christian theology and has been compared to C. S. Lewis. “A Wrinkle in Time” rankled some conservative Christians and the book ranks 90th on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 most-banned/challenged books of the early 2000’s. Critics said the book combined Christian themes and the occult, and they disputed L’Engle’s contention that science and religion can coexist.

There are echoes of the Gospel of John and 1 Corinthians in the book. After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg Murry, her brother and her friend to space in order to find him. Three mysterious astral travelers known as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which lead the children on a dangerous journey to a planet that possesses all of the evil in the universe.

In 1995, L’Engle spoke with Episcopal News Service about the power of storytelling and her theology.

‘Story Is Where We Look for Truth’ An Interview with Madeleine L’Engle
Episcopal News Service
January 19, 1995
By Neil M. Alexander

Neil M. Alexander was vice-president and editorial director of the United Methodist Publishing House when he interviewed L’Engle. He is now president and publisher emeritus. He is not to be confused with Bishop J. Neil Alexander, the current vice president and dean of the School of Theology at Sewanee The University of the South.

What are you seeking to discover and share through your writing?

I wrote my first story when I was five, because I wanted to know why my father was coughing his lungs out from mustard gas he was exposed to in the First World War. Why is it that people hurt each other? Why don’t people love each other? I learned quickly that a story is the best place to explore these unanswerable questions. Facts are limited; they don’t carry us very far. Story is where we look for truth.

Which questions do you find yourself asking over and over again?

All the big ones. The questions that adolescents ask — and that we should never stop asking. Unless we continually bring questions to our faith, it will become sterile and cold. And so we ask: Why did God create the universe? Is there a purpose to it? Why did God take the incredible risk of making creatures with free will? And this leads us to ponder why, if God is good, do terrible things happen? Of course, there are no simple answers. If you have people with free will, they are going to make mistakes, and our actions do have consequences.

Is too much emphasis given to the importance of individual freedom? Would it be better if our communities provided more narrow boundaries?

I remember many years ago being in Russia with my husband. After a concert we were walking back to our hotel late at night, with no fear whatsoever, through tunnels beneath Red Square. When we came up on the other side of the square, I turned to my husband and said, “The price for this sense of security is too high.” With freedom there also comes risk, but it is worth it.

Ava DuVernay’s movie version of the classic children’s book “A Wrinkle in Time” was released March 9 and has renewed interest in the book and its author. It has also prompted a host of other books related to the story and the movie. Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Where do you find the resources to sustain your search, to help you struggle with the ambiguity of being human?

Reading the Bible has always been a part of my daily life. My parents were Bible-reading people, and I grew up reading the Bible as a great storybook, which indeed it is. It is remarkably comforting to me that of all the protagonists in scriptural stories, not one is qualified to do what God is asking. In a sense we are all unqualified. If you were going to start a great nation, would you pick a hundred-year-old man and a woman past menopause? That’s the kind of thing God does.

I also read in the area of quantum mechanics and particle physics, because these are disciplines where people are dealing with the nature of being. These writers describe a universe in which everything is totally interrelated, where nothing happens in isolation. They have discovered that nothing can be studied objectively — because to look at something is to change it and be changed by it. I find such discussions helpful in framing theological responses to questions about the nature of the universe.

You have an incredible ability to draw upon your memory, to discern truth from events in your own life. How might others be helped to develop this capacity?

One thing that is helpful is keeping an honest and unpublishable journal. What you write down you tend not to forget. I’ve been keeping journals since I was eight. It is a way of having a say in the telling of our own stories. The act of writing it down helps set it in our memory. For storytellers, memory is very important because we can’t write a story without drawing on our own experience.

How does that apply to our spiritual pilgrimage as Christians? Do you think the faith community has developed a good memory to draw upon?

I don’t. I think we have forgotten far too much. I am concerned, for example, that we take Jesus’ parables out of context. We treat them as isolated illustrations in and of themselves, but they make much more sense if you know when they were given in the course of Jesus’ ministry and to whom he was speaking.

I don’t believe you can be a Christian in isolation from the support and collective memory of the believing community. My church is very important to me, and so is the group of women I meet with every Monday for study and prayer. We are in this life together, not alone.

Some time back there were reports about folks speculating that you are a “new age” thinker. What was that all about?

I haven’t the faintest idea. I once asked someone what led people to say I was promoting “new age” concepts. The response was, “You mention the rainbow, and that’s a sign of new age thinking.” I said, “Hey, wait a minute. The rainbow is the sign of God’s covenant with his people. Don’t hand our symbols over to those promoting ‘new age’ spirituality. Don’t let faddish groups take away what God has given us.”

“A Wrinkle in Time,” whose original book jacket is show here, was rejected 26 times before it was published and won the Newberry Award in 1963. Photo: Wikipedia

I was sent a newspaper clipping that cited my book “A Wrinkle in Time” as one of the 10 most censored books in the United States. When it first appeared in 1962, it was hailed by many as a Christian work. In the intervening years not one word of that book has changed. So, what has happened to cause people to want it banned?

What do you think happened?

I think there are some people who are terribly afraid… afraid that they cannot control or manipulate God, that God might love people they don’t love, that God’s love is too all-embracing, and that we don’t have to earn it. All we have to do is say we are sorry, and God throws a big party.

That is frightening to some people. They seem to feel that they can’t be happy in heaven unless hell is heavily populated. I don’t really understand that.

Do you worry that an overemphasis on unconditional grace might lead to giving license for the self-centered pursuit of personal comfort without accountability?

Unconditional grace is not the same as permissiveness, though I think it gets confused with that sometimes. We are creatures who sin. I don’t think that makes God angry. On the contrary, I think that makes God incredibly sad.

I think we hurt God by our sinning and by manipulating the idea of unconditional grace into something that makes it easier for us to go on sinning. Grace does not give us permission to be destructive people. God’s grace ought to give us the courage to try to give pleasure to God.

At night when I read my evening prayers, I ask myself, “What have I done that would have hurt God today?” and “What have I done to give pleasure to God?”

How do your books help people experience God’s grace and grow in faithfulness?

I have had many letters from people who say that the loving God revealed in my books has changed their lives. They tell me that they have discovered that they no longer have to be afraid of God.

“The Summer of the Great Grandmother” is about my mother’s 90th and last summer. I was very angry about what was happening to her. I wrote about walking down the dirt road in front of the house shouting, “God, don’t do this to my mother. You take her!”

I have received letters from readers who said, “I didn’t know I was allowed to be angry.” Well, of course we are allowed to be angry, but we are also called not to stay stuck in our anger.

In “The Irrational Season” you say that male and female will not be completely reconciled until Christ returns. Yet in “Two Part Invention” you describe the extraordinary harmony of your own marriage. We seem to be in a time of struggle over male and female roles and relationships. What are your current thoughts about this subject?

There is a lot of antagonism in the world between male and female. I think we are paying much too much attention to gender conflict. What I hear people asking is: Does God really love me? Will I continue as who I am after death? Will God continue to help me grow? Why is there so much pain? Why, if God is good, do we do so many wrong things? I wish the church would address itself to that.

We see violence, deprivation, suffering and hatefulness close to home and across the world. As you survey what is happening, how do you dare to be hopeful?

I am hopeful because I don’t think God is going to fail with creation. I think somehow or other love is going to come through. Christ is with us.

After my husband died, I lived several years with my two granddaughters who were in college. They questioned things, and sometimes we didn’t agree, but at least we were all struggling to find truth.

Because we are human and finite, and God is divine and infinite, we can never totally comprehend the living, wondrous God whom we adore. So, there are always unanswered questions as God pushes us along and helps us grow in love. But my granddaughters and the other young people I meet are willing to ask and struggle with the important questions. That gives me hope.

Lead the leaders of the world, presiding bishop tells Episcopalians and Anglicans at UN women’s meeting

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 1:56pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry stands with Lay Assistant Nadyne Duverseau, left, Montana Bishop for Native American Ministries Carol Gallagher and the Rev. Carey Connors of Fredericksburg, Virginia, amidst the congregation that celebrated the opening Eucharist on March 12 for the UNCSW gathering. The youth are participating in the session, and they wrote the prayers for the service. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal and Anglican women attending the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women have some gospel work to do.

That was Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s message to a packed Eucharist on March 12 in the Chapel of Christ the Lord at the Episcopal Church Center in New York, a few blocks from the UN. The service, held on the opening day of the session that lasts until March 23, was celebrated in thanksgiving for the gathering of women who have come from all over the world.

The 17 Episcopal delegates, who represent Curry at the gathering, are from places such as Venezuela and Puerto Rico, and from Tennessee to Washington state. They are diverse in age, culture, geography, race and experience. They are gathering with 20 women from 16 Anglican Communion provinces; the Mothers’ Union sent seven women from five provinces.

The Rev. Carey Connors does a quick rehearsal of the Prayers of the People with members of the Episcopal Youth in Global Community group of St. George’s Episcopal Church, Fredericksburg, Virginia, before opening Eucharist on March 12 for the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The youth are participating in the session, and they wrote the prayers for the service. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

“You have come here this week in the midst of what is the nightmare of our world,” Curry said during his sermon. “You have come to the seat of the nations of the earth to encourage our leaders and to show them how to end the nightmare and realize the dream for all of us.”

It is “Gospel work” to help reconfigure the nightmare of the world into the dream that God intends for us, he said. It is work that began with Mary, “Jesus’ mama,” the presiding bishop said, “so, follow her footsteps.”

The theme of this meeting centers on the challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.

“Go, go do your work, don’t get weary,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry tells the people gathered March 12 in the Chapel of Christ the Lord at the Episcopal Church Center in New York, a few blocks from the United Nations building, for the opening UNCSW Eucharist. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Representatives of member states, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations from all regions of the world, including the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church, are attending. ECOSOC stands for the UN’s Economic and Social Council. Curry submitted a statement to the UNCSW, based on General Convention. Episcopal delegates look to that statement and its priorities in shaping their advocacy as they share their own stories, reflections and concerns that further the cause. http://undocs.org/E/CN.6/2018/NGO/109

In his statement, the presiding bishop said many rural women and girls are leaders in their communities and that “evolving social norms, expanding human rights and increasing numbers of women working outside the home have enhanced their opportunities.” Their leadership is based on their knowledge of their land, environment, community and culture,” he wrote. However, they still face “challenges, inequalities and beliefs that impede them from further empowering themselves.”

Curry’s statement called on the UN community and civil society to remedy this situation by:

Prioritizing resources and programs for marginalized groups of rural women and girls, extending access to basic resources and services to rural areas, addressing environmental concerns and extend land rights, and promoting gender equality education and practices and eradicate gender-based violence.

Seventeen Episcopal delegates, who represent Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the UNCSW session, will work with members of the Episcopal Church-wide staff to advocate for rural women during the March 12-23 gathering. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Many other submissions from around the world are here. Many, but not all, of the faith-based organizations’ statements, including Curry’s and that of the Anglican Consultative Council, can be directly accessed here.

All delegates will settle on a final version of “agreed conclusions” (now in draft form here) by the end of the session or soon thereafter. If approved, the UN General Assembly expects member states to bring those priorities home to implement them in the following years.

Mothers’ Union member Ekua Swanzy of Ghana, right, Shelia Golden of Canada, Felicia Yeboah Asuamah of Ghana and Mothers’ Union Chief Executive Bev Julien sing “In Christ There is No East or West” at the opening UNCSW Eucharist on March 12 at the Episcopal Church Center in New York, a few blocks from the UN. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Bev Julien, chief executive of the Mothers’ Union, said recently that that organization’s attendance at the meeting “is important as we represent the voices of more than 4 million globally.”

“Isolation and loneliness are challenges in both global north and south, and the issues of women’s economic empowerment are even more acute in rural than urban communities.” The Mothers’ Union delegates “have direct experience of the issues and will be advocating nationally to urge these to be addressed.”

At the end of his rousing sermon, Curry called on the delegations to advocate for God’s dream. “My dear sisters, we believe that God has something better in store for this world,” he said. “It is your job this week to help the leaders of the nations find out what it is and make this world better. So, go, go do your work, don’t get weary.”

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

Korean church leaders support dialogue by world leaders to avoid military conflict

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 5:23pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The ecumenical body representing churches in Korea – including the Anglican Church in Korea – have welcomed news that the North Korea has agreed to cease missile tests, pending a meeting between the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The chair of the reconciliation and reunification committee of the National Council of Churches of Korea, the Rev. Haekjib Ra, said that the ecumenical body remains convinced that dialogue is the only way to resolve military conflict on the Korean peninsula peacefully.

Read the full article here.

Fueron anunciados los miembros de la Presencia Oficial de los Jóvenes a la Convención General Episcopal

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 12:21pm

Ya fueron anunciados los 16 miembros de la delegación de la Presencia Oficial de los Jóvenes a la 79.ª Convención General.

La 79.ª Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal tendrá lugar del jueves 5 de julio al viernes 13 de julio en el Austin Convention Center,  en Austin, Texas (Diócesis de Texas).

La Presencia Oficial de los Jóvenes en la Convención General fue establecida inicialmente en 1982 gracias a una resolución. A los miembros de la Presencia Oficial de los Jóvenes se les permite puesto y voz de acuerdo a las reglas de la Cámara de los Diputados y participarán en las audiencias de las comisiones y los debates en el recinto.

“Desde la convención de 1997 en adelante, la Presencia Oficial de los Jóvenes ha gozado del privilegio de tener puesto y voz en la Cámara de los Diputados”, dijo la presidenta de la Cámara de los Diputados Gay Clark Jennings. “Nuestros debates y deliberaciones legislativas se han animado y enriquecido por estos impresionantes jóvenes y esperamos con ansias darles la bienvenida a la Cámara a los participantes de este año. Me siento especialmente agradecida con el vicepresidente de la Cámara de los Diputados Byron Rushing y con la diputada Ariana González Bonillas, de Arizona, por su labor al ayudarnos a seleccionar a los jóvenes que estarán con nosotros en Austin”.

“Los miembros de la Presencia Oficial de los Jóvenes participarán en la orientación y entrenamiento de la Convención General del 5 al 8 de abril en Austin. Esto asegurará que estén listos para la Convención General cuando lleguen a Texas el 2 de julio”, señaló Clark Stov, directora de los Ministerios de Formación, Jóvenes y Jóvenes Adultos. “Estos jóvenes participarán en todos los aspectos de la Convención General desde las reuniones de los comités hasta las deliberaciones legislativas en el recinto de la Cámara de los Diputados, donde tendrán puesto y voz”.

Los siguientes jóvenes servirán como la Presencia Oficial de los Jóvenes en la Convención General 2018:

Provincia I
• Georgia Atkinson, Iglesia Episcopal en New Hampshire
• James-Paul Forbes, Iglesia Episcopal en Connecticut

Provincia II
• Anthony Baldeosingh, Diócesis de Long Island
• Wentao Zhao, Diócesis de Long Island

Provincia III
• Alexander Ward, Diócesis de West Virginia
• Andrew K. Kasule, Diócesis de Washington

Provincia IV
• Justin Mullis, Diócesis de Carolina del Norte
• Helena Upshaw, Iglesia Episcopal en Carolina del Sur

Provincia V
• Claire Parish, Diócesis de Michigan Occidental
• Alexander Koponen, Diócesis de Indianapolis

Provincia VI
• Emily Jetton, Diócesis de Iowa
• Luisa Van Oss, Iglesia Episcopal en Minnesota

Provincia VII
• Michaela Wilkins, Diócesis de Texas
• Cecelia Riddle, Diócesis de Kansas

Provincia VIII
• Ángela Cainguitan, Diócesis de Hawaii
• María González, Diócesis de Olympia

Provincia IX Actualmente está discerniendo a los candidatos.

Los Mentores Adultos para la Presencia Oficial de los Jóvenes serán:
• Cookie Cantwell, Diócesis de Alta Carolina del Sur, Provincia IV
• Rdo. Randy Callender, Diócesis de Maryland, Provincia III
• Karen Schlabach, Diócesis de Kansas, Provincia VII
• Rdo. Israel Portilla Gómez, Diócesis de Colombia, Provincia IX
• Rdo. Vincent Black, Diócesis de Ohio, Provincia V, servirá como capellán.

Junto con Skov estarán Wendy Johnson, funcionaria de Formación Digital y Eventos y Valerie Harris, asociada del departamento de Formación, ambas son parte del personal de la Iglesia Episcopal.

El Departamento de Formación recibió 107 solicitudes de jóvenes en las diócesis de toda la Iglesia Episcopal. Las solicitudes fueron revisadas por un comité que incluyó al vicepresidente de la Cámara de los Diputados Byron Rushing de Massachusetts y a la diputada Ariana González Bonillas de Arizona, miembros de la Red del Consejo de Liderazgo del Ministerio de los Jóvenes y personal del departamento de Formación.

Para más información, favor comunicarse con Skov en bskov@episcopalchurch.org.

La Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal se celebra cada tres años para deliberar los asuntos legislativos de la Iglesia. La Convención General es el organismo bicameral que gobierna la Iglesia, compuesta de la Cámara de los Obispos, con más de 200 obispos activos y jubilados, y la Cámara de los Diputados, con más de 800 diputados clérigos y laicos electos, provenientes de las 109 diócesis y tres zonas regionales de la Iglesia. Entre convenciones, la Convención General continúa funcionando a través de sus comités y comisiones. El Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia Episcopal lleva a cabo los programas y políticas adoptados por la Convención General.

Episcopalians, Anglicans to join push for rural women’s empowerment at United Nations

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 4:20pm

The 2017 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women included 45 member states plus accredited nongovernmental organizations such as the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Photo: UNCSW

[Episcopal News Service] Women and girls in remote, rural pockets of the world will stand in the forefront of the minds of Episcopal delegates heading to a two-week session at the United Nations in one of the most populous cities in the United States — New York.

The 62nd United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) is taking place March 12-23. For 2018, the theme zeroes in on the challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.

“This is the second-largest UN event in New York City every year. It’s all very dramatic and exciting,” Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church representative to the United Nations, told Episcopal News Service. The largest event is the United Nations General Assembly, held in September.

Why rural women and girls?

Virtually every gender and development indicator with available data reveals that, globally, rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women, according to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’ report for the 62nd commission, based on a 2016 study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

“Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in rural areas around the globe is clearly linked to all other goals and targets, including ending poverty in all its forms, eradicating hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture, achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all and taking action to combat climate change,” Guterres wrote.

Studies have long shown how inequality between women and men creates a domino effect of suffering for everyone worldwide, and the inherent challenges of rural life only compound the problem. For instance, just 39 percent of rural girls attend secondary school, while every additional year of primary school increases girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent, a global UNCSW report shows. More education also encourages them to marry later and have fewer children, and leaves them less vulnerable to violence.

Of the many solutions that Sadiya Butros Tia Dent would like to bring back home to Sudan, the first would be practical ways to improve the education and training of girls and women. Tia Dent was selected by the first archbishop and primate of the Province of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, Ezekiel Kondo, to represent the new Anglican province created in 2017 at UNCSW.

She wants to establish a center for internet technology, but also for basic reading and writing skills. Tia Dent spoke to ENS soon after she arrived to the Episcopal Church Office in Manhattan to rest and meet others before the two-week session. “Especially in a country like Sudan, they don’t even know their rights. To know, we need to be equipped,” said Tia Dent, who has a master’s degree in human rights.

Also, on average, women comprise about 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, and if these women had the same access to resources as men do, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent, raising total agricultural output in these countries by 2.5 to 4 percent, the report shows. This would reduce the number of hungry people in the world by around 12 to 17 percent.

How the Episcopal Church fits in

“Sometimes what comes out of this is we’re more aware of the gaps on the church side,” Main told ENS. “We also encourage our delegates to think, be proactive and accountable to their communities back home to share this with others.”

Improving the lives of women and girls worldwide is a tenet of the baptismal covenant, says Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in a written statement, based on General Convention resolutions and submitted to the commission. Episcopal delegates shape their advocacy from that statement and its priorities, sharing their own stories, reflections and concerns that further the cause.

The church’s mission and work through rural congregations and networks, including many indigenous communities, are to “provide rural women and girls with spiritual care, socio-economic development, ministries to farmers, migrant workers and women, domestic poverty and asset-based community development programs and international development programs through Episcopal Relief & Development,” Curry wrote.

Yet basic resources and services in rural areas can be difficult to access, costly, insufficient or nonexistent, Curry said. Those inadequate infrastructure systems harm almost every aspect of life, from access to water, sanitation, stable and nutritious food to quality medical care, education, social protection and family support services.

A commission to act

But this is not a conference to simply discuss problems, participants say. It’s about planning action. Curry’s statement establishes four priorities for member states, United Nations entities and civil society:

  • Prioritize resources and programs for marginalized groups of rural women and girls,
  • extend access to basic resources and services to rural areas,
  • address environmental concerns and extend land rights,
  • and promote gender equality education and practices and eradicate gender-based violence.

The 45 UNCSW member states, with input from accredited nongovernmental organizations including the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, plan to hash out a final draft of agreed conclusions by the end of the session or soon thereafter, Main said. The final agreement goes to the United Nations. If approved, the General Assembly expects member states to bring those priorities home to implement them in the following years.

“It furthers the cause by taking action, and the member states are responsible for that. If you don’t have agreed conclusions, nothing can happen,” Rachel Chardon, administrative officer for the Anglican Communion’s Office at the United Nations General Program, told ENS.

There’s official follow-up, too.

Since 2006, the commission has reviewed how the agreed-upon conclusions from some previous session were implemented, and this year, the commission is looking at the 47th UNCSW session to see how member states have implemented those priorities.

The priority theme in 2003 was “participation and access of women to the media, and information and communication technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women.”

Episcopalians participate in several ways

The 17 Episcopal delegates, hailing from places such as Venezuela and Puerto Rico to Tennessee and Washington state, are diverse in age, culture, geography, race and experience. These delegates will be able to attend the official UNCSW proceedings at the United Nations, including joint advocacy with the group, Ecumenical Women.

“We’re there to show that the Episcopal Church is present and that we care. And, to share what the church thinks needs to happen,” Main said. “We track how they work out the outcome document through our own lens and comment on it as it develops. We’re not the main players at the table, but we’re an active part of the process.”

Other Episcopalians attend parallel events and UNCSW activities. One block from the United Nations, the Episcopal Church Center will hold several worship services and events throughout the two-week period for Episcopalians and others to attend and network. Episcopal churches will host events as well.

Episcopal participation in this UN effort aligns with the “leave no one behind” and “reach the furthest behind first” principles of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, which the church affirmed in 2016.

Advocating for gender equality and empowerment was commended at the 2015 General Convention, and that includes transgender individuals, as well as women, Curry wrote in the statement. This work involves a lot of education.

“This requires correcting present social, political and economic inequalities and identifying root causes such as traditional understandings of gender roles, socialization of women and girls to believe that they are ‘less than,’ passivity, religious beliefs, sexism, machismo and patriarchy,” he said.

“New values must be communicated through culturally contextualized gender equality education that includes men and boys, and demonstrates that gender equality benefits all people.”

— 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.

Jubilee minister is immigrants’ devoted ally for 30 years, helping more than 1,000 become citizens

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 1:10pm

Linda Barber advises Charlie Whitney on his application to bring his fiancee to the United States from the Philippines. He was accompanied on his visit to Trinity Episcopal Church in Aurora, Illinois, by his grandparents. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Aurora, Illinois] Linda Barber is not an immigration lawyer, but she knows one if you need one. She’s not a priest or a deacon and doesn’t prefer calling herself a minister either, though Jubilee minister is her official title at Trinity Episcopal Church in this city west of Chicago.

What Barber has become over more than 30 years of service is an improbable immigration law expert and the humble one-woman team behind Trinity Amnesty Center, a ministry that has provided a guiding hand to more than 1,000 newly minted U.S. citizens and helped an untold number of other immigrants and their families with everything from paperwork to preparing for their naturalization tests.

“If you need your fingerprints, I can do them right now,” Barber, 75, said from behind her desk at the church office.

With federal immigration policy a hot-button issue and with the Trump administration calling for greater restrictions, the heated political rhetoric in Washington, D.C., hasn’t filtered down to Barber’s cramped but inviting 10-by-12 office. A depiction of Africa in wood and an animal carving from Macedonia, gifts from two of Barber’s past clients, rest on a shelf next to a card that reads “Thou Shalt Not Hassle.”

In Barber’s office, the only judgement you are likely to face is on the merits of your immigration case. Either you have a case, or you don’t. And if you do, Barber is your devoted ally through every step of the process.

“Welcome the stranger” is how Barber describes the Christian purpose behind Trinity Amnesty Center.

And this: “Jesus was an immigrant,” she said. “I wonder if he had a visa to cross countries. I don’t think so.”

Linda Barber has been helping people with their immigration paperwork for more than 30 years, providing a guiding hand to at least 1,084 newly minted U.S. citizens. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Immigration assistance is just one of the ministries Trinity Episcopal Church offers as a Jubilee Center of the Episcopal Church since 1987. Trinity recently received a $750 Jubilee Ministries grant as a show of support for those efforts, which include a weekly soup kitchen meal, opportunities for court-ordered community service and a work program for individuals with developmental disabilities.

That level of activity may surprise anyone who only visits Trinity on Sunday morning, when the average attendance at worship services barely tops 30 people, mostly skewing older, according to Barber. She is a lifelong member of the congregation who was baptized at the church.

“We do a lot, for the small group that we have,” she said.

Pinned to a bulletin board above Barber’s desk is a certificate of appreciation awarded her by the Diocese of Chicago in recognition of her immigration assistance. The certificate is from 1988, when Barber was still relatively new to this work. She jokingly curses the church’s former rector for being absent one day in 1987, leaving Barber, as parish administrator at the time, to answer a knock at the door from the immigrant who would become her first client.

It was a Canadian woman who hadn’t realized she wasn’t a U.S. citizen until she needed to verify her status in applying to a college in Chicago. Or was it that the woman was about to get married? Barber struggled to summon a precise memory of that first case, but its legacy is clear. Now 31 years later, Barber gladly opens the door of the church offices to welcome anyone looking for help with their immigration status or a relative’s case.

Aurora is Illinois’ second-largest city at about 200,000 residents, about 50,000 of them foreign born, mostly from Latin America and Asia. Its downtown suffered an economic decline toward the end of the last century, but there are signs of growth again, said the Rev. Denzil Luckritz, Trinity’s rector since 2015. The Jubilee Center has had a hand in that rebound, Luckritz said, thanks in large part to Barber’s work.

“She’s made a difference in people’s lives,” he said.

Linda Barber reviews Charlie Whitney’s Form I-129F in her office at Trinity Episcopal Church in Aurora, Illinois. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

On the day Episcopal News Service visited Barber’s office, she had a 10 a.m. appointment with Charlie Whitney, a 30-year-old from the nearby city of Ottawa, Illinois, who was applying to bring his fiancée to the United States from the Philippines.

“What have you got for me? Do you have the form?” Barber asked Whitney.

“I do,” he said, handing her a stack of paperwork bound neatly together. This was a Form I-129F, a “petition for alien fiancée,” and it dutifully provided information about how Whitney met 28-year-old Rhea Tago while vacationing in the Philippines in 2017, how they fell in love and kept in constant long-distance communication and how he returned to the country and proposed to her in January.

Barber typically scans a form like this for potential red flags that she thinks immigration authorities, looking to identify marriage fraud, will use as reasons for denying legal residency. Whitney’s documentation was thorough, including screenshots of some of his love-struck Facebook Messenger conversations with Tago.

“I’m impressed. You have done your homework,” Barber said.

She told him his next step is to be patient. She also advised that money orders and cashiers’ checks are processed faster than personal checks. Whitney asked if security concerns have slowed down the process, but Barber said she wasn’t aware of any that would affect this petition.

If all goes smoothly, Tago might be able to join Whitney in a matter of months, Barber said. The priest at Whitney’s Roman Catholic parish already had agreed to marry the couple within three months of Tago’s arrival, as required by immigration law.

“If we’ve got the rest of our lives together, what’s another couple months, if needed?” Whitney said. He gave Barber a $20 bill as a donation for her help.

Church’s ministry dates back to Reagan-era amnesty program

Barber is a part-time paid employee of the church and typically works Wednesdays and Thursdays. Some weeks no one stops by needing immigration help. Other times her clients visit after learning about her services while attending the free lunches she helps organize on Thursdays. She also gets referrals, as was the case with Whitney.

His grandmother had struck up a conversation with Barber while the two women were working together on floral arrangements for an Aurora flower shop on Valentine’s Day. Add part-time florist to her resume.

She’s also a bass drum player in a local steel drum band and officiates at swim and diving meets, activities that got her out of the house 25 years ago after her daughter left home for college. Her work with the Trinity Amnesty Center did the same.

The term “amnesty” may be a political lightning rod in 2018, but the ministry’s roots date back to the Reagan era, when passage of the bipartisan Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986 created an amnesty program for millions of immigrants. That initially drove some of Barber’s first clients to seek her help with their paperwork. She responded by learning everything she could about immigration law and is still visibly energized by the work.

“I’ve met so many people from all over the world, and from some countries I didn’t even know existed,” she said.

Barber still regularly attends classes offered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, office in Chicago, to stay up to date on the latest changes in the law. Back in Aurora, she maintains a modest library of immigration resources in her office.

One cabinet in the corner is stocked with brochures on civics lessons for the naturalization test. She also has flash cards if clients want to practice. Lined up on a shelf behind her are copies of “Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants.” And if she needs to verify a detail, she’ll either pull up the Department of Homeland Security website on her computer or grab a green binder with “USCIS” written on its spine and flip through page after page of forms, fee schedules and instructions.

Barber says she knows more about immigration law than some lawyers – less a boast than a statement of fact – but if she’s unable to answer a client’s questions or thinks legal assistance is necessary, she hands the case off to an Aurora attorney, Patrick Kinnally, who has worked with Trinity Amnesty Center nearly from the start.

“She’s committed to trying to help people,” Kinnally told ENS by phone. “The community and Trinity are lucky to have her doing what she does.”

Linda Barber is Jubilee minister at Trinity Episcopal Church in Aurora, Illinois, where she is the one-woman team behind the Trinity Amnesty Center and helps host free lunches weekly at the church. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Most of the cases Barber sees involve Form N-400 (application for U.S. citizenship) or Form I-130 (green card application for the direct relative of a U.S. citizen or legal resident). She has attended more than her share of citizenship ceremonies, and a quick check of her computer records shows at least 1,084 people are U.S. citizens today thanks partly to Trinity Amnesty Center.

Some stories stick with her, like the man with Down’s syndrome whom she taught to write “I want to be a U.S. citizen” over and over. She accompanied him on his trip to Chicago for his naturalization interview and remembers him pointing to the Statue of Liberty in a picture on the wall.

“It still chokes me up,” she said.

He is now a citizen. Another client asked Barber to help bring her parents to the U.S. When the parents became citizens, Barber helped them apply to bring their other children. And when one of those children got married, Barber was invited to the wedding.

“They’re good, good people,” Barber said, and despite sometimes having to wait a dozen or more years, they’re “doing it the right way.”

Her “right way” evokes a federal process, one that ensures immigrants maintain legal status. The wrong way, whatever it may be, has no corresponding form in the green binder.

Immigrants face threat of greater restrictions under Trump

The process of bringing family members to the United States has been criticized by President Donald Trump as “chain migration,” which he hopes to end. Does Barber see anything wrong with immigrants bringing their whole families to the U.S.?

Barber paused at the question, then admitted she hadn’t really thought about the prudence of the policy.

Another legal path to citizenship is known as the diversity visa lottery, which encourages immigration from certain countries underrepresented among the 1 million or so people who legally move to the U.S. each year. That too has been targeted by Trump: “We need to get rid of the lottery program as soon as possible,” he said in November.

Goran Petkoski, a native of Macedonia, came to the U.S. in 2002 with a diversity visa. His English is precise despite his lingering accent, and his enthusiasm for America was obvious during a visit to Barber’s office.

“It’s not just that you can accomplish all of your dreams, a better life. I learned the fact that we have the best education,” said Petkoski, who earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Northern Illinois University in 2016 and now is training to be a grocery store manager.

Macedonia natives Goran Petkoski, center, and his mother, Spasija Petkoska, meet with Linda Barber to ask for her help applying for U.S. citizenship for Spasija Petkoska. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Petkoski, 41, became a U.S. citizen in 2007 and later applied to bring his mother, Spasija Petkoska, to this country with him. She moved here in 2012 and now sat in the chair across from Barber’s desk, her hands folded in her lap. Her grasp of English was minimal, but Petkoska, 61, has been a permanent resident of the U.S. for more than five years, making her eligible to apply for citizenship.

“Why do you want to become an American citizen?” Barber asked.

Petkoska’s son translated for her. “She wants to be a citizen because she lives here, and she respects everything that the country does for her,” he said.

Barber outlined what to expect: At her citizenship interview, Petkoska will need to explain in at least simple terms what it means to be a U.S. citizen. But before then, she will need to get two passport-style photos, and she will need money, because the government charges $725 for the application alone. During their next visit, Barber will help them fill out Form N-400.

“I’ve helped a lot of people from Macedonia,” she said before sending mother and son on their way.

Barber has not had much experience with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which was created under President Barack Obama to offer protection for immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally when they were children. DACA protections now are in limbo after Trump revoked the program.

As for adults who came to the United States illegally, Barber withholds condemnation. They simply aren’t the clients she typically assists at Trinity Amnesty Center. Under current law, no amount of paperwork is likely to help.

“There’s no way they can become legal at this point,” she said.

That doesn’t prevent Barber from engaging in some wishful thinking. One of the regulars at the Thursday soup kitchen meal is a man who has been in this country illegally for years. Every week, after he finishes his free lunch, he sticks around to help wash dishes.

“I want to adopt you,” Barber sometimes tells him, “so you can become legal.”

Form N-600: “An adopted child may also acquire U.S. citizenship through his or her adoptive U.S. citizen parent.” A valid path to citizenship, but not for someone 18 or older.

Wishful thinking.

Wishes and paperwork aside, Barber also feels called to look after her dishwashing friend and any other immigrants who enter the doors at Trinity Episcopal Church.

“They know they’re all safe here. I’m not going to call the feds on them,” she said. “This is a church. We want you to be safe here.”

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

Hong Kong prepares to welcome thousands of young people for international Taize pilgrimage

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 12:07pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Thousands of young adults from around the world will gather in Hong Kong in August for a five-day Taize Pilgrimage of Trust and Reconciliation. The Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (HKSKH) – the Anglican Church in Honk Kong – has joined with the Catholic Church and the Hong Kong Christian Council to invite Taize to stage the significant international gathering in Hong Kong City. Some brothers from the France-based Taize Community arrived in Hong Kong last month and will stay in the Chinese autonomous territory to help plan for the international event. They have taken part in local services and welcomed to a provincial meeting of HKSKH Clergy.

Read the entire article here.

Sydney Archbishop welcomes New South Wales modern slavery bill

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 12:05pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Draft legislation to make it easier for police and prosecution authorities to crack down on modern slavery in New South Wales has been welcomed by  Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies. The archbishop was in the public gallery of the New South Wales Legislative Council March 8 as MLC Paul Green introduced his modern slavery bill. Davies said that the bill “deserves the wholehearted support of the Parliament and the people of NSW.”

Read the entire article here.

Primate of Brazil calls for women and men to fight together for gender equality

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 4:06pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The primate of the Anglican Episcopal Church in Brazil, Francisco de Assis da Silva, has called on men and women in the church to work together in the fight for gender equality. Francisco, who leads the Diocese of South-Western Brazil in addition to his role as primate of the province, said in an open letter that “We live in a time of setbacks sponsored by those who hold power in the Brazilian state. Violence against women has widened. The exclusion of social rights has become systematic against the most vulnerable segments of society and, of course, women are the biggest victims.”

Read the entire article here.

House of Bishops pledges advocacy to end gun violence, sexual violence

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 8:39pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops said March 7 its members will support two major social movements, one to end gun violence and the other to end sexual harassment, violence and gender bias.

The bishops said they “wholeheartedly support and join” young people who survived the deadly Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in their call for an end to gun violence.

In the other statement, they said they knew the “church has fallen short of our responsibility to listen and respond” to “the reality of sexual harassment, gender-based violence, and the cultural stronghold of gender bias and inequity.” The bishops “invite the church to a deeper examination of what God intends for our relationships,” including at the July meeting of General Convention.

Both statements were “accepted” during their annual spring retreat, according to press releases issued by the church’s Office of Public Affairs. The bishops are gathered March 6-9 at Camp Allen, an Episcopal camp and conference center in Navasota, Texas.

Bishops say students are ‘choosing life’

In their statement on the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, the bishops noted that “at this critical moment young people of our nation are inviting us to turn away from the nightmare of gun violence to the dream of choosing life,” the bishops said

The statement endorses the goals of the student organizers of the March for Our Lives, scheduled for March 24 in Washington, D.C. Companion marches are planned in many U.S. cities and towns, and many Episcopal bishops have voiced their support for those marches. The bishops’ statement reiterated that support.

They also pledged to observe “a day of Lament and Action” on March 14, one month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which killed 17 students and adults.

The bishops said that, while they stand in support of the students’ efforts “we acknowledge that black and brown youth have continuously challenged our country to address the gun violence that they and their communities are experiencing,” the bishops said. “We repent that, as bishops, we have failed to heed their call.”

Some commentators have observed that the media and the public in general have appeared to be more sympathetic to the calls to end gun violence that have come from predominantly white communities. Others have expressed concern about potential racial bias among teachers who might be armed, as President Donald Trump and others have proposed.

The bishops said they “recommit to working for safe gun legislation as our church has called for in multiple General Convention resolutions.”

The Episcopal Church bishops acted a day after receiving a letter from Episcopalians Philip and April Schentrup, the parents of 16-year-old Carmen Schentrup, who was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. The Schentrups attend St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in nearby Coral Springs, Florida, where their daughter was a youth group leader. Southeast Florida Bishop Peter Eaton shared the letter with the bishops.

“In our attempt to heal from despair and grief, we are compelled to try and make the world a better place for our two remaining children and for all children,” the parents told the bishops, imploring them “as leaders of Christ’s church, to address the issue of gun violence head-on.

“We ask that you make this a priority for the church and to leave little ambiguity as to ‘what would Jesus do.’ The scourge of gun violence on this nation, especially with military assault rifles, is a problem of our own creation and counter to God’s desire for peace and love. As a nation we can solve this problem, and as leaders of the church in our country, we ask that you help lead the way. In Christ’s name, we beg you to take action.”

They also asked the bishops to “to come with us to stand up for the lives of children and for the ministry of Christ’s church” during the March 24 events.

“One can only imagine the example of leadership and solidarity that such a showing could make on our fractured and divided country,” the Schentrups wrote.

Responding to the #MeToo movement

In their statement on sexual harassment and violence, the bishops note that this is the first time the House of Bishops has met as a body since the #MeToo movement began last fall.

“Many of us have experienced sexual harassment and perhaps sexual violence,” they wrote. “Bishops who are women know the ‘me-too’ experience. Some bishops who are men know it as well. We live with different experiences of the cultural endowment of power.”

The house pledged to continue what it called “our own work of reconciliation within our branch of God’s church, honoring what we have learned and accomplished, as well as acknowledging the distance we still must travel.”

They said that the work “will take courage.

“As many women and men bravely come forward to speak the truth of their experience, courageous men and women will listen, where appropriate repent, and take an active role in repairing the brokenness, working to change the culture of our church.”

The statement also announced what the bishops called a “listening process in an open meeting at General Convention to hear more fully the stories of those who have been victims of sexual harassment and violence in the church.” That session will be July 4 from 5:15 to 7 p.m. in the House of Bishops convention meeting space.

The bishops’ plan follows a Jan. 22 letter from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, calling on Episcopalians to spend Lent and beyond examining how the church has handled or mishandled cases of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse. The letter also said that they wanted General Convention to discuss these issues because they “want to hear the voice of the wider church as we determine how to proceed in both atoning for the church’s past and shaping a more just future.”

Jennings later announced that she would appoint and chair a special House of Deputies committee on resolutions regarding sexual harassment and exploitation. The committee will have five subcommittees to draft resolutions on inclusive theology and language; disparities in pay, hiring, leave and pensions; changes to the Title IV disciplinary process and training; truth and reconciliation; and systemic social justice beyond the church. The committee appointments were announced a week ago.

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

La Chambre des évêques s’engage pour mettre fin à la violence par armes à feu et à la violence sexuelle

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 1:59pm

[Service Episcopal News] La Chambre des évêques de l’Eglise épiscopale a déclaré le 7 mars que ses membres soutiendront deux grands mouvements sociaux, pour mettre fin, l’un  à la violence par armes à feu et l’autre au harcèlement sexuel, à la violence sexuelle et aux et préjugés sexistes.

Les évêques ont déclaré qu’ils « soutiennent de tout cœur et s’unissent » aux jeunes survivants de la fusillade meurtrière du 14 février à l’établissement scolaire de Parkland, en Floride, dans leur appel à mettre fin à la violence par armes à feu.

Dans une autre déclaration, ils ont dit qu’ils savaient que « l’église n’est pas à la hauteur de notre responsabilité d’écoute et de réponse » à « la réalité du harcèlement sexuel, de la violence sexiste et de la citadelle culturelle des préjugés et injustices sexistes. » Les évêques « invitent l’église à un examen plus approfondi de ce que Dieu veut pour nos relations », y compris durant la Convention générale de juillet.

Les deux déclarations ont été « adoptées » lors de leur retraite annuelle de printemps, selon des communiqués de presse délivrés par le Bureau des affaires publiques de l’église. Les évêques se sont réunis du 6 au 9 mars à Camp Allen, un camp et centre de conférence épiscopalien situé a Navasota au Texas.

Les évêques déclarent que les étudiants « choisissent la vie »
Dans leur déclaration à la suite de la fusillade de Parkland, les évêques ont noté que « à ce moment critique les jeunes de notre nation nous invitent à nous détourner du cauchemar de la violence par armes à feu pour rêver de choisir la vie. »

La déclaration approuve les objectifs des étudiants organisateurs de la Marche pour nos vies, prévue le 24 mars à Washington, D.C. Des marches de soutien sont prévues dans de nombreuses villes des États-Unis et de nombreux évêques épiscopaliens ont exprimé leur soutien à ces marches. La déclaration des évêques a réitéré ce soutien.

Ils ont également promis d’observer « une journée de Lamentation et d’action » le 14 mars, un mois après la fusillade au lycée Marjory Stoneman Douglas où 17 étudiants et adultes ont été tués.

Les évêques ont déclaré que, tout en soutenant les efforts des étudiants, « nous reconnaissons que les jeunes de couleur ont continuellement invité notre pays à faire face à la violence par armes à feu qu’ils subissent, eux et leurs communautés ». “Nous nous repentons, en tant qu’évêques, de ne avoir pas entendu leurs appels.”

Certains commentateurs ont observé que les médias et le public en général semblaient plus réceptifs aux appels pour mettre fin à la violence par armes à feu provenant de communautés majoritairement blanches. D’autres ont exprimé leurs inquiétudes quant aux préjugés racistes potentiels parmi les enseignants qui pourraient être armés, comme l’ont proposé le président Donald Trump et d’autres.

Les évêques ont déclaré qu’ils « réitèrent leur engagement à travailler en vue d’une législation sur la sécurité des armes à feu, comme notre église l’a demandé dans plusieurs résolutions de la Convention générale. »

Les évêques de l’Église épiscopale ont réagi aussitôt après avoir reçu une lettre des épiscopaliens Philip et April Schentrup, les parents de Carmen Schentrup, âgée de 16 ans, qui a été tuée dans la fusillade du lycée Marjory Stoneman Douglas. La famille Schentrup fréquente l’église épiscopale St. Mary Magdalene de Coral Springs, en Floride où leur fille était responsable d’un groupe de jeunes. Mgr. Peter Eaton, évêque du diocèse du sud-est de la Floride, a donné lecture de leur lettre  aux évêques.

« Dans notre tentative de guérir du désespoir et du chagrin, nous sommes obligés d’essayer de faire de ce monde un monde meilleur pour nos deux enfants restants et pour tous les enfants », ont déclaré les parents aux évêques, les implorant « en tant que dirigeants de l’église du Christ, d’aborder de front la question de la violence par armes à feu. »

“Nous vous demandons d’en faire une priorité pour l’église et de ne laisser que peu d’ambiguïté quant à « ce que Jésus ferait. » Le fléau de la violence par armes à feu dans cette nation, en particulier avec des fusils d’assaut militaires, est un problème de notre fait et qui est contraire au désir de paix et d’amour de Dieu. En tant que nation, nous pouvons résoudre ce problème et, en tant que dirigeants de l’église dans notre pays, nous vous demandons d’aider à ouvrir la voie. Au nom du Christ, nous vous supplions d’agir. »

Ils ont également demandé aux évêques de « venir avec nous pour défendre la vie des enfants et le ministère de l’église du Christ », lors des événements du 24 mars.

« On ne peut qu’imaginer l’exemple de leadership et de solidarité qu’une telle démonstration pourrait apporter à notre pays fracturé et divisé », ont écrit M. et Mme Schentrup.

Répondre au mouvement #moiaussi
Dans leur déclaration sur la violence et le harcèlement sexuels, les évêques notent que c’est la première fois que la Chambre des évêques s’est réunie depuis que le mouvement #moiaussi a débuté à l’automne dernier.

« Beaucoup d’entre nous ont été victimes de harcèlement sexuel et peut-être de violence sexuelle », ont-ils écrit. « Les évêques femmes connaissent l’expérience du « moi aussi ». Ainsi que certains évêques hommes. Nous vivons différemment la relation au pouvoir selon notre culture. »

La Chambre s’est engagée à poursuivre ce qu’elle a appelé « notre propre travail de réconciliation au sein de notre branche de l’Eglise de Dieu, honorant ce que nous avons appris et accompli, tout en reconnaissant la distance qu’il nous reste encore à parcourir. »

Ils ont dit que ce travail « demandera du courage. »

« Alors que beaucoup de femmes et d’hommes s’avancent courageusement pour partager la vérité sur leur expérience, des hommes et des femmes courageux écouteront, le cas échéant se repentiront et joueront un rôle actif dans la réparation de ce qui a été brisé, travaillant à changer la culture de notre église. »

La déclaration a également annoncé ce que les évêques ont appelé un « processus d’écoute lors d’une réunion ouverte à la Convention générale, afin d’entendre plus complètement les témoignages de celles et ceux qui ont été victimes de harcèlement et de violence sexuels dans l’église. » Cette session aura lieu le 4 juillet de 17h15 à 19h00 à l’endroit où se réunit la Chambre des évêques.

Le projet des évêques fait suite à la lettre du 22 janvier du Primat Michael Curry et de la révérende Gay Clark Jennings, présidente de la Chambre des députés, demandant aux épiscopaliens d’examiner durant le Carême et au-delà, la façon dont l’église a plus ou moins bien géré les cas de harcèlement, exploitation et abus sexuels. La lettre dit également qu’ils voulaient que la Convention générale discute de ces questions parce qu’ils « veulent entendre la voix de toute l’église pour déterminer le processus pour expier le passé de l’église et façonner un futur plus juste. »

Gay Clark Jennings a annoncé plus tard qu’elle nommerait et présiderait un comité spécial de la Chambre des députés sur les résolutions concernant le harcèlement et l’exploitation sexuels. Le comité aura cinq sous-comités pour préparer des résolutions sur : une théologie et une langue inclusives ; les disparités en matière de rémunération, d’embauche, de congés et de pensions ; les modifications du processus disciplinaire et de la formation du titre IV ; la vérité et la réconciliation ; et la justice sociale en-dehors de l’église. Les nominations au comité ont été annoncées il y a une semaine.

La révérende Mary Frances Schjonberg est rédactrice en chef par intérim de l’Episcopal News Service.

Tairawhiti Bishop Don Tamihere elected as primate of Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 12:14pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The two existing primates of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ANZP) have announced that the province’s third primate will be Bishop Don Tamihere, currently bishop of Tairawhiti. The Church of ANZP is unique in the Anglican Communion in having three primates of the whole province, but with special responsibility for the three Tikangas, or geographical and cultural streams: Polynesia, Maori, and Pākehā (people of European descent). Tamihere will succeed the late Archbishop Brown Turei, who died in January 2017 at the age of 92, just two months ahead of his planned retirement.

Read the entire article here.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby presses British government on violence in DRC

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 12:10pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has used his position as a member of the House of Lords – the upper house of Britain’s Parliament – to ask the British government how they are responding to “the escalating violence and suppression of peaceful protests across the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” Addressing government minister the Earl of Courtown march 6, Welby said he had spoken that morning to Archbishop Zacharie Masimango Katanda, primate of the Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo (the Anglican Church of Congo) about the “prevailing anarchy across the country which the central government in Kinshasa seem unable to control.” He said that the on-going war had created “two million refugees who are now living in conditions of immeasurable suffering and four million casualties over the past 20 years”

Read the entire article here.

La Cámara de Obispos promete abogar por el fin de la violencia armada y de la violencia sexual

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 7:42am

[Episcopal News Service] La Cámara de Obispos de la Iglesia Episcopal dijo el 7 de marzo que sus miembros apoyarán dos importantes movimientos sociales, uno para ponerle fin a la violencia armada y el otro para terminar con el acoso y la violencia sexuales y la discriminación de género.

Los obispos dijeron que “sinceramente apoyan y se unen” a los jóvenes que sobrevivieron la masacre escolar del 14 de febrero en Parkland, Florida, en su llamado a ponerle fin a la violencia armada.

En la otra declaración, dijeron que sabían que “la Iglesia ha descuidado su responsabilidad de escuchar y responder” a “la realidad del acaso sexual, la violencia de género y el bastión cultural de los prejuicios y la inequidad de género”. Los obispos “invitan a la Iglesia a un examen más profundo acerca de lo que Dios quiere para nuestras relaciones”, incluida la reunión de julio de la Convención General.

Ambas declaraciones fueron “aceptadas” durante su retiro anual de primavera, según un comunicado de prensa emitido por la Oficina de Asuntos Públicos de la Iglesia. Los obispos se reunieron del 6 al 9 de marzo en Camp Allen, un campamento y centro de conferencias episcopal en Navasota, Texas.

Los obispos dicen que los estudiantes están ‘optando por la vida’
En su comunicado luego de la masacre de Parkland, los obispos resaltaron que “en este momento crítico los jóvenes de nuestra nación nos invitan a alejarnos de la pesadilla de la violencia armada por el sueño de optar por la vida”.

El comunicado respalda los objetivos de los estudiantes que han organizado la Marcha por nuestras vidas, programada para el 24 de marzo en Washington, D.C. Otras marchas semejantes se esperan en muchas ciudades y pueblos de EE.UU. y muchos obispos episcopales han expresado su apoyo a esas marchas. La declaración de los obispos reiteraba ese apoyo.

Ellos también se comprometieron a guardar “un día de lamento y acción” el 14 de marzo, un mes después de la masacre en la escuela secundaria  Marjory Stoneman Douglas, en la que resultaron muertos 17 personas, entre estudiantes y adultos.

Los obispos dijeron que, si bien apoyan los empeños de los estudiantes, “reconocemos que los jóvenes negros y mestizos han llamado continuamente a nuestro país a que aborde la violencia armada que ellos y sus comunidades experimentan”, dijeron los obispos. “Nos arrepentimos de que, como obispos, no hemos atendido a su llamado”.

Algunos comentaristas han observado que los medios de prensa y el público en general han mostrado mayor simpatía a los llamados a ponerle fin a la violencia armada que provienen de comunidades predominantemente blancas. Otros han expresado preocupación acerca del potencial prejuicio racial entre los maestros que podrían estar armados, como han propuesto el presidente Donald Trump y otras personas.

Los obispos dijeron que ellos están “más que comprometidos a trabajar por una segura legislación sobre las armas tal como nuestra Iglesia ha exigido en múltiples resoluciones de la Convención General.”

Los obispos de la Iglesia Episcopal actuaron al día siguiente de recibir una carta de los episcopales Philip y April Schentrup, los padres de la joven de 16 años Carmen Schentrup, que murió en la masacre de la secundaria Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Los Schentrup asisten a la iglesia episcopal de Santa María Magdalena [St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church] en el vecino Coral Springs, Florida, donde su hija era líder de un grupo de jóvenes. Peter Eaton, obispo del Sudeste de la Florida, compartió la carta con los obispos.

“En nuestro intento de sobreponernos a la desesperación y el dolor, nos sentimos compelidos a hacer del mundo un lugar mejor para los dos hijos que nos quedan y para todos los niños”, les dijeron los padres a los obispos, implorándoles “como líderes de la Iglesia de Cristo, que abordaran de frente el problema de la violencia armada.

“Les pedimos que hagan de esto una prioridad para la Iglesia y dejen pocas dudas respecto a ‘lo que Jesús haría’. El azote de la violencia armada en esta nación, especialmente con fusiles militares de asalto, es un problema de nuestra propia creación y contrario al deseo de Dios de paz y amor. Como nación podemos resolver este problema, y como líderes de la Iglesia en nuestro país, les pedimos que ayuden  a mostrar el camino. En el nombre de Cristo, les suplicamos que actúen”.

Ellos también les pidieron a los obispos “venir con nosotros para defender las vidas de los niños y la del ministerio de la Iglesia de Cristo” durante los eventos del 24 de marzo.

“Uno sólo puede imaginar el ejemplo de liderazgo y solidaridad que esa actuación puede hacer en nuestro fracturado y dividido país”, escribieron los Schentrup.

En respuesta al movimiento  #MeToo

En su declaración sobre el acoso y violencia sexuales, los obispos advirtieron que es la primera vez que la Cámara de Obispos se reunía como cuerpo desde que comenzara el movimiento #MeToo en el otoño pasado.

“Muchos de nosotros hemos experimentado acoso sexual y tal vez violencia sexual”, escribieron. “Las obispas, que son mujeres, conocen la experiencia de me-too [yo también]. Algunos obispos hombres la conocen también. Vivimos con diferentes experiencias el legado cultural del poder”.

La cámara promete continuar lo que llamó “nuestra propia labor de reconciliación dentro de nuestra rama de la Iglesia de Dios, honrando lo que hemos aprendido y realizado, así como reconociendo la distancia que nos falta por recorrer”.

Ellos dijeron que la tarea “exigirá coraje”.

“Mientras muchas mujeres y hombres comparecen valerosamente para hablar de la verdad de su experiencia, hombres y mujeres valerosos escucharán y, donde sea necesario, se arrepentirán y asumirán un papel activo en reparar el quebranto, laborando por cambiar la cultura de nuestra Iglesia”, escribieron los obispos.

La declaración también anunció que los obispos convocaban a un “proceso de escucha en una reunión abierta en la Convención General para oír más a fondo los testimonios de los que han sido víctimas de acoso sexual en la Iglesia”. Esa sesión será el 4 de julio de 5:15 a 7 P.M. en el salón donde se reúna la Cámara de Obispos durante la Convención.

El plan de los obispos atiende una carta del 22 de enero del obispo primado Michael Curry y de la Rda. Gay Clark Jennings, presidente de la Cámara de Diputados, en la que llaman a los episcopales a dedicar la Cuaresma y más allá a examinar cómo la Iglesia ha manejado bien o mal los casos de acoso, explotación y abuso sexuales. La carta decía también que ellos querían que la Convención General discutiera estos temas porque “quieren oír la voz de toda la Iglesia en tanto determinamos como proceder tanto en lo concerniente a expiar por el pasado de la Iglesia como a configurar un futuro más justo”.

Jennings más tarde anunció que nombraría a un presidente de un comité especial de la Cámara de Diputados sobre resoluciones respecto a acoso y explotación sexuales. El comité tendrá cinco subcomités para redactar resoluciones sobre teología y lenguaje inclusivos; disparidades en pagos, contrataciones, licencias y pensiones; cambios al proceso disciplinario del Título IV y capacitación; verdad y reconciliación y justicia social sistémica más allá de la Iglesia. Los nombramientos del comité se dieron a conocer hace una semana.

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg jefe de redacción interina de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Sewanee seeks untold story of university’s ties to slavery, segregation in reconciliation project

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 3:15pm

The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, hosts a dedication ceremony May 16, 1940, for a memorial to Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby-Smith, who also taught math at Sewanee after the Civil War. Photo courtesy of University Archives and Special Collections: The University of the South

[Episcopal News Service] Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee sits atop a plateau, and students interested in viewing the expanse of valley to the west are invited to hike some of the more than 50 miles of trails across the campus, known as the Domain.

Seeing those landscapes is enough to know their beauty. “The stretch of Perimeter Trail from Morgan’s Steep to Armfield Bluff affords wonderful views to the valley and into deep coves,” one professor recommended in a 2008 Sewanee Magazine article profiling the best day hikes on Sewanee’s 13,000 acres.

The names given these places, however, reflect a time when Sewanee’s early leaders openly embraced a belief in white racial superiority. Oliver Morgan was a member of one of the most prominent slaveholding families in Louisiana, and John Armfield was part owner in a leading U.S. slave-trading operation.

Both men contributed to the original founding of the university by dioceses of the Episcopal Church in 1857. Church leaders across the South who supported the new university saw it as their Christian duty to help maintain the slaveholding order, according to Woody Register, a Sewanee history professor who is leading a six-year research project on Sewanee’s early ties to slavery and segregation.

“The University of the South was founded to be the slavers’ university, to represent the interests of a slaveholding society,” Register said, and that mission was clearly seen through a Christian lens that saw slavery as morally defensible. “You can’t separate its church purposes, its religious purposes, from the social purposes of the university.”

That vision never materialized. By the time Sewanee opened its doors in 1868, the Civil War was over, and slavery had been abolished. How the University of the South recalibrated its mission in that new order is one focus of the university-sponsored Project on Slavery, Race and Reconciliation.

“I like to think of this as there being two foundings,” Vice-Chancellor John McCardell Jr. told Episcopal News Service. “One, the founding that failed, and one that succeeded.” The founding that succeeded, he added, was not driven by a desire to maintain slavery.

Even 150 years after that second founding, those who fought to maintain slavery are still honored at Sewanee, and such public honors, especially those bestowed on Confederate army leaders, have faced increased scrutiny at Sewanee and institutions around the United States in the aftermath of deadly violence at a white supremacist, neo-Confederate rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Those events in August sparked a national debate over Confederate imagery in public spaces. Register’s team at Sewanee, barely a month into its research, was asked to provide information supporting university administrators’ decision to relocate a prominent memorial honoring Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby-Smith, who also taught at Sewanee after the Civil War.

Re-examining Confederate symbols, though numerous on campus, is not the sole focus of Sewanee’s project. The Project on Slavery, Race and Reconciliation, part of a coalition of three dozen universities known as the Universities Studying Slavery, aims to expand the narrative of the university’s founding and its first century beyond what can be told through Sewanee’s own archival documents.

Register’s team is “casting our net much more broadly” for new details of that untold story by examining records kept across the South in places where the university received its early financial support – including in some of the 28 Episcopal dioceses that still own and govern the university today.

The project’s work also is integrated into Sewanee’s academic life, with several students serving on the project working group.

“If we can acknowledge the past, then we can progress, so I think this is a huge step,” said Jonathan Brown, a senior who is on the Project on Slavery working group.

Brown, an American studies major, is black and grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. He chose to attend Sewanee after receiving a scholarship and didn’t know much about the university’s history at first. In his four years there, he fell in love with Sewanee and its close-knit community while having the opportunity to learn more about its past.

With the Project on Slavery, he has helped organize some of its public events while preparing the underclassmen on the team for the work they will do in years ahead.

“I’ve loved every moment of it,” he said of his work on the project. “I’m really excited to see where it takes off.”

Silver Spring is a suburb of Washington, D.C., and Brown recalls conversations with his parents about the research Georgetown University was conducting on its historical complicity with slavery, including its sale in 1838 of 272 slaves to keep the university running.

The Episcopal Church has taken similar steps to confront its past. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has made racial reconciliation one of his top priorities, most notably through the “Becoming Beloved Community” initiative. And General Convention has passed numerous resolutions on the subject, including a 2006 resolution about slavery.

“The Episcopal Church acknowledges its history of participation in this sin and the deep and lasting injury which the institution of slavery and its aftermath have inflicted on society and on the Church,” the resolution said, and it called on each diocese to compile evidence of that complicity.

Racial reconciliation also is a goal of Sewanee’s project, as it reaches beyond the campus to foster discussion in the community about these issues. One recent example was the Feb. 19 forum titled “Reading and Rereading History” featuring two Sewanee professors discussing symbols of racial injustice on campus. The event was held off campus to encourage a mix of students and residents to participate.

“I certainly think the what we’re doing here is consistent with what the church is seeking to do,” said McCardell, who is an Episcopalian.

Research on roots in slavery gains in urgency

Sewanee has grappled for years with how to balance an appreciation for its history with a desire to confront and move beyond its past ties to racial oppression.

A 2005 New York Times story detailed changes Sewanee was making at that time to appeal to a more geographically and racially diverse pool of potential students – changes dismissed as destructive or unnecessary by some alumni. Despite the removal of some overtly racist symbols, administrators told the Times they had no intention of getting rid of certain other landmarks that had been fixtures on the campus for decades, such as the Kirby-Smith memorial.

The university’s 2012 strategic plan also emphasized a commitment to fostering a diverse campus community, and in the 2015-2016 academic year, Sewanee created several task forces of students and faculty to study ways of fulfilling that commitment.

That effort came just as the national conversation around Confederate symbols had deepened after a June 2015 shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, in which a gunman with Confederate sympathies murdered nine people at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

In fall 2015, Sewanee removed a portrait of Leonidas Polk from public display. Polk was the Episcopal bishop who led the drive to create the University of the South before joining the Confederate army as a general during the Civil War. (He was killed in battle.) A portrait known as “Sword Over the Gown” shows Polk vested as a bishop but with his Confederate uniform draped over a chair and his military sword beside him.

The portrait, said to be a copy of the original, was moved from Convocation Hall to Sewanee’s archives, sparking a mix of support and criticism.

The following year, Sewanee joined the Universities Studying Slavery. McCardell and other top administrators asked Register in August 2016 to lead the Sewanee Project on Slavery, and over the winter, Register and a graduate student, Tanner Potts, drafted a plan for the six-year project that launched in July 2017.

Register expected to spend two or three years researching the history of the campus’ tributes to Kirby-Smith and other Confederate and slaveholding figures, inviting input from all sides before recommending any changes.

By fall 2017, however, the work had grown in urgency.

“We did not anticipate the way in which events would develop over the summer, and part of our mission all along was to evaluate and figure out what to do with the many, many memorials and monuments to the antebellum slaveholding order and the Confederacy on our campus,” Register said. “The events of Charlottesville accelerated the schedule for doing that.”

Other Episcopal institutions, too, have fought to keep pace with current events while assessing what to do about Confederate symbols. Washington National Cathedral had embarked on what it thought would be a two-year process of discerning whether to keep or remove images of the Confederate flag in its stained-glass windows. After the violence in Charlottesville, the dean announced abruptly last fall that no further deliberation was needed, and the flags were removed.

The clashes between hate groups and counter-protesters in Charlottesville centered around the city’s decision to take down a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Soon after those clashes, McCardell said he was contacted by a descendant of Kirby-Smith asking that the memorial at Sewanee be moved to the campus cemetery, where it would be less likely to become a flashpoint for controversy.

Edmund Kirby-Smith was a Confederate general who later taught mathematics at the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee, where this monument to the general is located. It was moved last year from this location to the university cemetery. Photo: Caroline Carson

McCardell moved forward with that plan in the fall, after consulting with Register’s team about the history of the memorial. It had been proposed the 1920s by the Daughters of the Confederacy, but because fundraising was difficult during the Great Depression it wasn’t installed until 1940, Register said.

His team confirmed the memorial was on campus property, dispelling rumors that the land had been given away long ago. And research into the memorial’s dedication ceremony, which bore a military motif and featured display of the Confederate battle flag, indicated that Kirby-Smith was honored more for his Civil War record than for his later career as a math professor.

The university moved the memorial to the cemetery with little fanfare.

“The idea is to understand things as best we can before we act,” Register said.

Studying the past to shape Sewanee’s future

Register, a native of Alabama, graduated from Sewanee in 1980 and has taught history at the university for 26 years. (He received his doctorate from Brown University, an early trailblazer among the Universities Studying Slavery.)

As Register expanded his understanding of Sewanee’s ties to slavery and segregation, he gradually worked some of those details into his teaching and scholarly articles. About three years ago, he helped produce an exhibition Sewanee manhood called “Founded to Make Men” that foreshadowed his present worth with the Project on Slavery.

“It changed how I thought about the history of the university,” Register said.

His research suggested that Sewanee originally was conceived as a place where Southern men would be taught to be leaders of the slaveholding order in the antebellum South. He disputes criticisms that learning more about that history and its representation in present-day landmarks is a step toward “destroying the past.”

“It’s quite the opposite,” he said. “We’re trying to better understand the past, and there’s a lot here that we need to know more about.”

As examples, Register noted that some dormitories are named for Confederate military figures, such as Charles Todd Quintard, a Confederate chaplain who later became the Diocese of Tennessee’s first post-war bishop and served as Sewanee’s vice-chancellor. (Quintard is celebrated by the Episcopal Church every Feb. 16.) Another dormitory is named for Josia Gorgas, a Confederate general who later served as president of the University of Alabama.

“I think Woody’s approach to this has been quite sound and in the best tradition of academia,” McCardell said. “Let’s study the issue from all angles. … The perspective of time ought never to be underestimated. The decisions made in the heat of the moment are not necessary the wisest decisions.”

The work of the Project on Slavery has revealed how many connections to Sewanee’s antebellum roots are found scattered around the campus, sometimes in subtle ways, as with the various place names taken from the men who gave money for the university’s founding.

“The Kirby-Smith memorial is an easy one to address, in a way,” Register said. “There are others. Our campus is paved with monuments and memorials.”

Will changing the names of places on campus help achieve that goal? Register’s team is not yet ready to make recommendations, though there are a broad spectrum of options available, from changing names and moving monuments to creating digital resources that provide deeper historical context for landmarks that evoke an earlier era.

“The most important thing first is that we make this history known and not make the argument that, that was long ago and it doesn’t matter,” Register said. “It does matter, and it should matter to us today.

“And to be honest and forthright about it is critical, especially critical if you’re going to understand what having this history does for your thinking about the mission and the goals of the university.”

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

Seattle Episcopalians share their stories of surviving Japanese internment in diocese’s video series

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 12:42pm

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Seattle, founded in 1908 by a group of Japanese Anglicans, was forced to close in 1942 because of the Japanese internment during World War II. Photo: Diocese of Olympia

[Episcopal News Service] The Diocese of Olympia has launched a video series that collects the first-person stories of Episcopalians who were among the Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps during a period of heightened xenophobia and racism at the start of World War II.

The federal policy was enacted by President Franklin Roosevelt by executive order on Feb. 19, 1942, and it uprooted 117,000 people of Japanese descent, about two-thirds of them U.S. citizens. Men, women and children were relocated out of what the government defined as the Pacific military zone along the West Coast to inland “assembly centers” and eventually relocation camps.

The forced exodus from Seattle prompted the temporary closure of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, a historically Japanese-American congregation that 75 years later helped spearhead the Diocese of Olympia’s video series. The diocese’s videographers recorded hours of footage, interviewing 17 people for the series, “Justice Interrupted.” The result is five 10- to 15-minute videos, the first of which was released Feb. 22.

Jan Kumasaka is interviewed in the first video of the “Justice Interrupted” series.

“I was actually 4 years old, riding on the trains, which were dirty,” Jan Kumasaka says, describing in the first video how her family was taken with other Japanese families to one of the camps by railroad. “There was really no water, windows were closed. They were blacked out as we’re traveling to the first camp.”

Her family spent four months in a camp before taking advantage of an opportunity to resettle in Montana. The government would allow release from the internment camps if families were willing to resettle further inland and could find jobs, but the other families spent most of the war at camps scattered around the country, from Idaho to Arkansas.

The Japanese internment camps are a significant part of the history of the Pacific Northwest because of its large Asian-American population, Olympia Bishop Greg Rickel told Episcopal News Service, and the passage of time has not minimized the injustice.

“It’s easy to sweep it under the rug and think that we’ve moved on,” Rickel said, but “we’re living through a time where we’re, I believe, making some of the same errors in judgment of people based on some of our fears.”

He pointed to the Trump administration policies seeking to curtail immigration and refugee resettlement. The Diocese of Olympia joined the American Civil Liberties Union in filing a lawsuit in February 2017 opposing President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees from seven majority Muslim nations.

Such federal policies may not rise to the level of the Japanese internment, Rickel said, “but we’re certainly headed down some of the same roads we went down.” Some of the internment camp survivors expressed such fears in their interviews for “Justice Interrupted.”

During World War II, proponents of internment justified it as a military precaution, guarding against Japanese immigrants and Americans of Japanese descent who might secretly work to support Japan in the Pacific theater of the war. Defenders of internment also argued that it also would protect those detained from racial attacks, though such arguments were undercut by conditions at the internment camps, which resembled prisons more than safe havens.

“As four or five families with their sparse collections of clothing and possessions squeezed into and shared tar-papered barracks, life took on some familiar routines of socializing and school,” the National Archives says in an online article summarizing the Japanese relocation. “However, eating in common facilities and having limited opportunities for work interrupted other social and cultural patterns.”

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church has been highlighting some of that history since last year to mark 75 years since Roosevelt’s executive order.

The congregation was formed in 1908 by a group of Japanese Anglicans, who met in houses until raising enough money to buy property in Seattle in 1932 to build a church. When the congregation’s families were forced to relocate to internment camps, the church closed on April 26, 1942, and didn’t reopen for more than three years.

“St. Peter’s people found their faith in God and their country tested,” the congregation says in an online history. “Nevertheless, along with other Episcopalians in camp, they continued to be the church, worshiping together and persevering until the day when they could return home.”

Other historically Japanese-American congregations have similar stories of upheaval during the war, such as Christ Church Sei Ko Kai in San Francisco and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. Two priests from St. Mary’s, the Rev. John Misao Yamazaki and his son, the Rev. John H. M. Yamazaki, followed the majority of their congregation to the camps and continued to lead worship services there.

The Episcopal Church also celebrates the work of the Rev. Hiram Hisanori Kano, who ministered to fellow internees and the guards at four internment camps during the war. He is included in the calendar of commemorations known as Holy Women, Holy Men on Oct. 24.

Rickel noted how the Japanese internment’s impact on such congregations also highlights how Episcopalians have been divided too often along ethnic lines.

“We as the church, too, segregated people and still do,” he said. “We don’t come off totally innocent in this.”

The video series, then, is an opportunity to expand the Episcopal Church’s work toward racial reconciliation, Rickel said. St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, a more diverse parish today, is proud of its Japanese-American roots, and Rickel hopes Episcopalians of all backgrounds will learn more about the history of that era through “Justice Interrupted.”

“We regret the actions of our country then and pray regarding similar actions being taken today, praying that we as a people do not make a similar mistake in this generation,” he said in an introductory video for the series.

Future installments are expected to be released throughout the year, about every two months.

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

Chief executive appointed to archbishop of Canterbury’s Anglican Communion Fund

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 1:09pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Communion Fund, an initiative of the archbishop of Canterbury to support churches and provinces around the Anglican Communion as well as the archbishop of Canterbury’s international ministry, has appointed a chief executive. Safiya Nyirongo, who has a background in international development and social enterprise, including with the international aid agency Oxfam, will take up her role on April 3.

Read the entire article here.