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Campus food ministries come in all serving sizes

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 5:14pm

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians across the church helped Episcopal News Service understand food insecurity on college campuses. Here are some of their stories.

St. Alban’s Episcopal Church’s UTA Food Pantry in Arlington, Texas

St. Alban’s Episcopal Church vestry member Doug Hunt talks with the Rev. Kevin Jones and vestry colleague Pam Hardaway about the arrangement of a new storage shed that holds non-perishable food for the parish’s ministry to international students. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The budding food pantry at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church grew out of the parish’s desire to find ways to connect with University of Texas at Arlington, or UTA, two blocks away. “I don’t think we really knew what that was going to be,” said Doug Hunt, a St. Alban’s vestry member.

Pam Hardaway, another vestry member, said the parish’s previous ministry of offering lunch to UTA students was popular for a while as were some night activities, but then they seemed to wane.

Last May, Johnson and some parishioners talked with a representative of the university’s student affairs office, and “the conversation quickly moved into food,” he said. The university has a large number of international students, mostly Hindu and Muslim. They have some other food-assistance options, but they weren’t as robust as they had been, according to Hunt.

“And they were being proselytized,” said the Rev. Kevin Jones, St. Alban’s rector, referring to feeding ministries of other Christian organizations.

“So, something clicked, and we said, maybe that’s our niche,” said Hunt.

They began to research how best to set up such a ministry. The pantry became a part of the 4Saints Food Pantry, a ministry of a group of Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Fort Worth. It formed another partnership with Green’s Produce, a local farm market and garden center.

After scouting locations and contacting UTA’s International Student Organization, the group chose a location just off campus near an international student housing area. It is actually the parking lot of another church. The student organization suggested once-a-month distribution on a Saturday afternoon.

Members of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, Texas, pre-bag food for a monthly distribution to international students at nearby University of Texas at Arlington. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The pantry launched in November. The group had 50 bags of food, and 32 students came. December saw a drop to 18 students, a decline Hunt said could be attributed to the double whammy of it being finals week and the Saturday of a home football game. The pantry did not run in January because of semester break.

The effort has been evolving ever since. Jones said recently that UTA’s Student Affairs Office asked that St. Alban’s move the pantry on campus to the Athletic Center, which gets a lot of foot traffic on Saturdays. The International Student Organization stepped up their publicity, and the Student Counseling and Psychological Services Office asked the church to provide food stocks for students whom they knew were experiencing food insecurity.

In two hours on Feb. 2, they gave away everything they had with them: 65 bags of food, plus fresh fruit and vegetables from Greens Produce, 50 loaves of bread, and dozens of bottles of spices and cans of coconut milk, among other things, said Johnson.

One young woman asked, “You mean you’re not going to make me pray with you first?” When Johnson told her, “It’s just free food. No strings attached,”  he said, “a big smile appeared on her face.”

“The program is on a measurably positive trajectory,” Johnson said, and the parish is excited. “It really was one of those things where their needs lined up with our resources.”

Hardaway agreed, adding, “I think this is a calling that maybe we have not really been listening to for a while.”

Episcopal Campus Ministry’s Student Food Pantry in Eugene, Oregon

The Student Food Pantry, run by the Diocese of Oregon’s Episcopal Campus Ministry in Eugene, operates out of a converted one-car garage. Photo: Episcopal Campus Ministry

Like many such pantries, the Student Food Pantry less than a block from the University of Oregon campus partners with a local food bank, Food for Lane County. The pantry, which began in 2011, is part of the ministry of the Diocese of Oregon’s Episcopal Campus Ministry program. It also serves students from a community college, a private Christian university and a small alternative college, according to the Rev. Doug Hale, who has run the ministry since 2013.

Food for Lane County supplies most of the student pantry’s food. While Hale said the student pantry does not always control what it gets, coordinators try to make good choices. “From the very beginning the pantry had some connection with the health center at the university and the dietician in particular, and so from the beginning there was a concern about trying not offer junk,” he said.

In the pantry there is a shelf of canned produce and a section of “good portion sources shelf-stable,” a grains section and in the center, “we try to have, if it’s available, as much fresh produce that we can offer in the space,” he said. The pantry has a refrigerator and a freezer so it can offer frozen meats and vegetables, plus yogurt from a local company.

“And it’s all crammed into this one single-car garage,” Hale said.

Last year the pantry served about 100 people weekly. When they decided to go from one to two days a week, Wednesdays and Thursdays, “the number jumped immediately” to about 150, he said. Now about 190 students a week come through, an increase Hale attributes to social media promotion and word of mouth.

People have to show that they are enrolled in the schools to use the pantry, and they can come once a week, which Hale said is more frequent than some other Eugene pantries allow. If a student has children, that increases how much they can take on each visit.

The pantry’s relationship with the university has waxed and waned over the years, Hale said, and now is in good shape. The current administration is experimenting with a number of programs to fight food insecurity among students. It is also looking at whether it can lease the pantry what Hale calls “a significantly larger space.” Increasing the pantry’s capacity might allow it to begin serving staff and faculty who also struggle with food insecurity issues, he said.

Asked what advice he might have for other Episcopal congregations and ministries in college towns, Hale suggested first connecting with local food banks. Then “take a look around at what is being offered,” either on campus or by other community organizations, and see where they might fit.

Houston Canterbury 

Houston Canterbury spent the last academic year looking at who comes to a 20-year-old Wednesday community meal at the University of Houston run by the campus ministry association, what the Rev. Eileen O’Brien called the association’s “big feed model.” Monitoring student IDs and some face-to-face interviews showed they were largely reaching international students who were paying for their own education but struggled with living costs and graduate students who did not have a meal plan and who were on campus at the time of the Wednesday meal.

“We weren’t getting to those undergrad students who do actually struggle with food scarcity,” said O’Brien, who said undergraduates at commuter schools like University of Houston are often the least connected to the campus.

O’Brien, who will soon begin a new job as rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas, said Houston Canterbury is trying to decide how to better serve the university community. The “big feed” will continue and in fact has expanded to include Thursday “Coffee in the Lobby” at its home base, the A.D. Bruce Religious Center.

FREE Lunch at the AD Bruce Religion Center today, 11:30-1. #UH #GoCoogs pic.twitter.com/GmWRKLIRAG

— Eileen O'Brien (@EileenEOBrien) January 16, 2019

Houston Canterbury is hoping to partner with campus organizations to find more ways to address the issue, including helping commuter students find services nearer to their homes. That next step will begin, she predicted, with conversations with the university’s student affairs office and the school’s Urban Experience Program and the Honors College.

The ministry also serves Texas Southern University, but O’Brien said the discussion of about food insecurity is not as far along at the commuter campus that is right across the street from the University of Houston. “One of the questions that we were thinking about was if we established some sort of food bank program, could it not serve both campuses?”

O’Brien said her time with Houston Canterbury made her “interested in how campus missionaries can do a better job of knowing the communities that our students come from and having good referrals within those communities” so that they can help commuter students find resources closer to their homes.

The interest came, she said, as the study showed her that the traditional ways campus ministries address hunger may not be the best ways to serve students. “I think that we’re naive if we get complacent with these sort of feeding programs and don’t step beyond them to address wider community health issues like food scarcity.”

Smokey’s Pantry at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Tables in the middle of Smokey’s Pantry at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville are typically used for produce. The produce in the green bins is grown on campus at the UT Grow Lab, a campus garden. Photo: Smokey’s Pantry

At Tyson House, the Lutheran and Episcopal campus ministry at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, or UTK, Smokey’s Pantry has been serving students every Tuesday during the academic year since January 2016. “We have a little bit of everything, from canned goods to fresh produce,” said Caitlynne Fox, Tyson House ministry coordinator and pantry intern.

Smokey’s has a partnership with a local community food bank. FISH Hospitality provides fresh produce, bread, meat, yogurt and hummus “along with the traditional canned goods and pastas,” she said.

“Our main goal is to serve the UTK students, faculty and staff, but it’s open to anyone who wants to come in and get food,” said Rusty Graham, Tyson House administrator.

Between 60 and 80 families come each week, meaning 80 to100 individuals get food from Smokey’s. There is no screening process for those who come to the pantry, and it was just this semester, Graham said, that they start asking if the individuals who came were students.

The pantry wanted to be able to know how many students it is serving, he said. They collaborated with one the offices at UTK that wanted to get more information about food insecurity on campus. “Ultimately, it’s going to help us know the impact that we’re having on campus. Those kinds of numbers will be great if we decide to pursue things like grant funding or just general reporting.”

Even though Tyson House is a denominationally supported ministry, Graham said Smokey’s Pantry is not operated as a faith-based program. “We want to limit any deterrent to guests coming in,” he said. “Eliminating those barriers to guests coming in can be tricky so the fewer barriers …”

“The better,” Fox concluded.

Canterbury Bridge Episcopal Campus Ministry at San Jose State University in San Jose, California

As campus chaplain, the Rev. Kathleen Crowe, a Diocese of San Jose deacon at Canterbury Bridge Episcopal Campus Ministry at San Jose State University, was asked in 2014 to be part of a campus-wide committee to examine the issue of homelessness and food insecurity on the campus in San Jose, California. They found that a third of the nearly 33,000 students “had to decide I am going to buy books, or I am going to eat,” in Crowe’s words.

The immediate response was to begin 15 portable food pantries across the campus in different departments that were stocked by those employees. “Often those shelves would be wiped out very quickly,” she said. Crowe would often talk to the students visiting the pantries, and she was able to give students “gold points” to use to buy meals in the school’s food court.

The 15 pantries were later consolidated into eight larger ones. “The vision had always been to have a permanent pantry on campus,” Crowe said. “And that dream was realized this semester.”

The university agreed to turn its old faculty dining room into such a pantry in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank. There are perishable and non-perishable food items.

“Students are on their honor, but it is for students that earn less than $33,000 a year,” Crowe said, adding that guests have to prove they are enrolled and must bring reusable bags.  The students swipe their ID cards so that the pantry can keep statistics.

The committee put money collection boxes in the food court, labeling them “Help Feed a Spartan,” the school’s nickname. “Those little boxes are stuffed full all the time,” taking in $700 to $800 to go toward buying food for the pantry, she said.

Meanwhile, the teachers of fourth-graders at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in nearby Saratoga asked if Crowe could help them develop a service project. She suggested they make personal hygiene kits. “Our students always need that kind of stuff,” she said.

Grace Café at Christ Episcopal Church in Valdosta, Georgia

Steph Johnson checks out the food set up for Thursday dinner at Grace Café, a ministry of Christ Episcopal Church, across the street from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia. Photo courtesy of Steph Johnson

What is now known as Grace Café at Christ Episcopal Church across the street from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia, grew from one woman’s desire to help young people. Steph Johnson and her husband, the Rev. Dave Johnson, Christ Church’s rector, had always been involved somehow in youth ministry. When the congregation’s campus ministry got stalled in its early stages, she took on the job.

Her daughter was in nursing school and Johnson told her to bring all her student friends to dinner at the rectory on Thursday nights. Then she told her son’s friends that they could continue to park for free at the church, “but they had to come and eat dinner with me on Thursday nights.” At the end of the first year, about 30 students were routine diners, and the group was out-growing the rectory. So, Johnson asked the vestry if she could have a house on the church’s campus, and it agreed.

The downstairs is now Grace Café, whose slogan is, “It’s not cheap … it’s free.” Coffee, drinks and snack foods are always available, and when she can afford it, breakfast items. Students of all ethnicities and sexual orientations, homeless and with homes, come to the café for food, Johnson said. Some stay to study and meet up with friends.

About 400-500 people stop by every day, she said. And, about 130 students fill the ground floor of that house, the deck and a nearby building for Thursday dinner.

“I know I have kids who are living in their cars, but they won’t tell me that yet,” she said. “I make sure they have lots of food.” The café has a shelf of ready-to-eat food free for the taking.

The café offers a church service on Sunday mornings followed by lunch. The café is open from 8 a.m. to midnight.

Johnson used to do all the work herself but now she has some helpers. Two other women help in the kitchen, along with two students who want to learn how to cook. Some parishioners bake desserts for Thursday night.

And then there are the interns. Four male students live rent-free above the café in exchange for 20 hours a week working at the café. When Johnson asked the vestry for another house on the church campus, the members agreed again. She renovated that building for five female students, who also intern at the café.

With more and more students coming to Grace Café and with a budding food pantry, costs were increasing, Johnson said. While some people suggested that Johnson could offer Thursday dinner for less money, she refused, saying she wants to treat the students like “honored guests.”

“I would want somebody to treat my kids that way,” she said, adding that she will only “cook things that I would want to eat myself.”

That has meant, recently, parmesan-crusted chicken, homemade fettucine alfredo and roasted broccoli. “I also do a vegetarian option,” she said. “I haven’t quite gotten to the vegan thing yet.”

Dave Johnson decided to ask parishioners to sponsor a meal at $350 a week. Those meals are now covered through this semester and the next. “Now I can take all that money I set aside for the Thursday dinners and put it into the café and the food bank,” she said.

“Basically, I have got a really, really super-supportive vestry that has yet to tell me no,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s because I am the priest’s wife or because they like what’s going on there.”

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

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Episcopalians try to counter ‘startling’ problem of food insecurity among college students

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 5:12pm

Students line up near the University of Oregon in Eugene for one of the twice-weekly food distributions at the Student Food Pantry run by the Diocese of Oregon’s Episcopal Campus Ministry in partnership with the local Food for Lane County food bank. Photo: Episcopal Campus Ministry

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians in college towns all over the United States are recognizing that many students have to choose between tuition and books or food, and they are trying to help.

Their ministries, often done in partnership with the schools and local food banks, range from start-up to long-established. Many are growing to serve an increasing need. Some are exploring whether what they do is helping. The problem they address is growing, and changing.

Food insecurity among college students is often hidden, bolstered by the myth that students who get financial aid have enough money. Let Steph Johnson explain it from her vantage point at Grace Café, a part of Christ Episcopal Church across the street from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia.

A sign on the wall at Grace Café says, “It’s not cheap … it’s free.” About 100 students fill the building on the Christ Episcopal Church campus and spill out onto the deck and another building for the Thursday meal. The café is open 8 a.m. to midnight for coffee, snacks and companionship. Photo courtesy of Steph Johnson

“I didn’t realize until I got into this ministry how there are kids who in order to go to college and get their books, they don’t have any food,” said Johnson.

Food insecurity can be an on-going issue for some students but only episodic for others, said the Rev. Doug Hale, who runs the Diocese of Oregon’s Episcopal Campus Ministry. Some students come every week, term after term, to the ministry’s Student Food Pantry. Others come and go as financial crisis hit them or their families. There are also the inexperienced young people who sometimes make bad choices within campus food service systems and the accompanying meal plans that “assume people make good choices,” he said.

Plus, “there’s always that stigma” and sense of shame that hungry students impose on themselves, said the Rev. Kathleen Crowe, a Diocese of San Jose deacon at Canterbury Bridge Episcopal Campus Ministry at San Jose State University in San Jose, California. Bringing the need out into the open helps, she said. When Second Harvest Food Bank’s Just in Time mobile food pantry attracted between 500 to 600 students other students saw that they weren’t the only ones in need, she said.

Schools with more commuter students find they have different types of hunger issues than schools with a more residential study body, according to the Rev. Eileen O’Brien, who until recently was part of Houston Canterbury. Of the school’s 47,000 students, she said, only 8,000 live in student housing. Many undergrads are coming from nearby communities and may work full time and go to school full time. Some have families with “mixed documentation,” which raises issues about who can legally work, she said.

The brand-new food pantry St. Alban’s Episcopal Church organized for international students and the University of Texas in Arlington strives to offer culturally appropriate goods to the primarily Hindi and Muslim population. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

O’Brien and the Rev. Kevin Jones, rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, Texas, both said international students have different needs and face different financial restrictions. At the University of Houston, international students often get no financial aid and their families back home are making big sacrifices for them to be in school. Most of that  money goes toward tuition, not food, housing or clothing. F-1 student visas carry stringent restrictions on work, making it harder for students to make ends meet. A number of international students she knows work “under-the-radar” jobs such as lawn care or parking cars.

Up at the University of Texas-Arlington where the international student population is mainly Hindi and Muslim, Jones said, St. Alban’s budding ministry soon realized that it had to tailor its pantry offerings to the students they hoped to reach. The organizers had to research foods and spices that are more specific to their diets, according to Doug Hunt, a vestry member. “We learned there’s different types of Hindi diets,” he said, adding that the international student organization advised the group on those choices.

The causes of hunger on campus are many

The Wisconsin Hope Lab said in 2015 that its survey of more than 4,000 undergraduates at 10 community colleges across the nation found what it called a “startling” 20 percent of students were hungry and 13 percent were homeless. In April 2018, the group said out of the 43,000 students it studied at 66 institutions in 20 states and the District of Columbia, 36 percent of students were food insecure in the 30 days preceding the survey.

The group, now known as the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice, defines food insecurity as “the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or the ability to acquire such foods in a socially acceptable manner,” adding that “the most extreme form is often accompanied with physiological sensations of hunger.”

While some students can get federal help via the Food and Nutrition Service’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, not all of them know that. The government’s General Accounting Office, or GAO, told Congress in December that many college students may not have enough to eat, but it found that of the 3.3 million students who were potentially eligible in 2016 for SNAP, commonly known as food stamps, less than half say they participated.

They may have trouble accessing information about their eligibility. The GAO recommends that the Food and Nutrition Service improve student eligibility information on its website and share information on state SNAP agencies’ approaches to help eligible students.

While some may think that hunger is a low-income problem, many students from both lower- and middle-income families who get financial aid still struggle to pay for tuition, room and board, books, fees and other costs. Some who do not qualify for aid still struggle.

All the while, college costs continue to rise. Between 2005–06 and 2015–16, prices for undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board at public institutions rose 34 percent, and prices at private nonprofit institutions rose 26 percent, after adjustment for inflation, the National Center for Education Statistics said last year.

Episcopalians involved in food insecurity work also look for ways to focus attention on the systemic issues that cause food insecurity, often by partnering with college administrations. Crowe was invited to serve on a San Jose State committee to address hunger on campus. Hale is also involved with the University of Oregon’s efforts.

Smokey’s Pantry volunteers (from left) Kathleen Spight, Haley Channell, Lauren Donnelly and Nelly Stepanov were ready Feb. 12 to serve University of Tennessee-Knoxville students at the food pantry run by the Lutheran-Episcopal campus ministry. Photo: Tyson House

It isn’t always easy, though, to get beyond the day-to-day needs. On the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Rusty Graham, the administrator of Lutheran and Episcopal campus ministry known as Tyson House, which runs Smokey’s Pantry, said “we’re very limited with the human power that we have that goes into the pantry.” Other groups on campus are trying to address the systemic issues “but from our perspective, we have to limit our scope to solving the immediate problem.”

Caitlynne Fox, Tyson House ministry coordinator and pantry intern, agreed. “As a campus community, that discussion about addressing the systemic issues has really just begun,” she said.

In her work in Houston, O’Brien tried to convey to Episcopalians and others who are in the position to make systemic changes. She took “the story of real lived experiences of students on campus and tell that story in other places where you had people who could do something about that problems. Campus ministry can help the church building up its consciousness about the lives of young adults.”

Read more about it

Click here for descriptions of six campus food ministries that Episcopalians are running.

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

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UN Human Rights Council to hear of Anglican efforts to combat human trafficking

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 3:11pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Efforts by Anglicans and Episcopalians to tackle human trafficking in Ghana, Hong Kong, the U.S. and the U.K. will be brought to the attention of the U.N. Human Rights Council this week. The Anglican Communion’s Permanent Representative to the U.N., Jack Palmer-White, will tell the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women that faith organizations have a key role to play in preventing trafficking in women and girls in the context of global migration. The committee is hosting a general discussion on the issue on Feb. 22 to help it prepare a “general recommendation” for U.N. member states.

Read the full article here.

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Equipo de planificación EYE20: Periodo de solicitud abierto para jóvenes interesados ​​en servir

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 3:04pm

Se aceptan solicitudes para jóvenes interesados ​​en participar en el Equipo de planificación para el Episcopal Youth Event 2020 (EYE20).

“Los miembros del Equipo de Planificación están encargados de crear e implementar EYE20 de principio a fin”, dijo Bronwyn Clark Skov, Director del Departamento de Formación en la Fe, que coordina el evento. “Los miembros del equipo deben ser maduros en su fe y ser capaces de emprender el trabajo y los compromisos necesarios durante el proceso de un año para desarrollar un evento internacional de esta escala”.

Para ser elegible para el Equipo de Planificación, los solicitantes jóvenes deben estar inscritos actualmente en los grados 9 a 11 y ser un miembro con buena reputación en una congregación de La Iglesia Episcopal. Además, todos los solicitantes deben estar disponibles para viajar sin acompañante en las siguientes fechas:

  •  Del 3 al 6 de octubre de 2019
  • Del 30 de enero al 2 de febrero de 2020
  • Del 16 al 19 de abril de 2020
  • Del 5 al 11 de julio de 2020

La solicitud en línea está disponible aquí en inglés y aquí en español.

La fecha límite para recibir solicitudes es el 17 de marzo de 2019 a las 5 de la tarde tiempo del Este.

El EYE20 es el 14º evento celebrado, que sigue siendo un evento popular y con buena asistencia. El EYE estará abierto a jóvenes episcopales en los grados 9-12 durante el año académico 2019-2020 y sus mentores adultos.

El EYE20 está programado del 7 al 11 de julio de 2020. El proceso de inscripción y los detalles adicionales sobre el evento estarán disponibles en otoño de 2019. La ubicación aún no se ha anunciado.

¿No está familiarizado con el Episcopal Youth Event? Lea acerca de EYE aquí.

Para más información diríjase a  bskov@episcopalchurch.org.

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La comunidad interreligiosa y los episcopales de San Diego siguen socorriendo a los solicitantes de asilo

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 7:39am

Voluntarios interreligiosos se reúnen semanalmente en el santuario de la iglesia episcopal del Buen Samaritano en San Diego, California, para clasificar ropa y otras donaciones. Aquí, la guardiana, Penny Powell, y la rectora, Rda. Janine Schenone, se dedican a esa tarea. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – San Diego, California] Cuando el otoño pasado el Servicio de Inmigración y Aduana de EE.UU. alertó a la Red de Respuesta Rápida de San Diego que comenzaría a soltar a la calle a solicitantes de asilo —incluidas familias con niños—, las organizaciones interreligiosas y de derechos humanos y sociales respondieron  con la apertura de albergues temporales.

“Un equipo de respuesta rápida aquí en San Diego lleva a un albergue a los solicitantes de asilo que han sido liberados por los agentes fronterizos, les proporcionan alimento y atención médica y les ayudan con el transporte para reunirse con miembros de sus familias u otras personas que los acogerán mientras fallan sobre sus casos, dijo Katharine Jefferts Schori, obispa auxiliar de San Diego, agregando que el proceso de sentencia a veces puede tomar años.

La iglesia episcopal del Buen Samaritano [Good Samaritan Episcopal Church] fue una de las muchas iglesias que se brindaron a identificar necesidades perentorias, tales como alimento, ropa, pañales y ayuda monetaria. La iglesia comenzó a aceptar ropa y otras donaciones a fines de octubre y ha continuado recibiendo donaciones diariamente y, una vez por semana, un promedio de 10 a 12 voluntarios interreligiosos clasifican las donaciones por talla y perdurabilidad.

“Sentimos que era lo que debíamos hacer”, dijo Carol Hamilton, presidente del [programa] de extensión social del Buen Samaritano. “Una de las cosas más bellas para nosotros es que esto ha atraído a comunidades de otras fes”.

En los tres años que la Rda. Janine Schenone ha servido como rectora, ha alentado a la congregación a participar más en la justicia social y en el compromiso comunitario, dijo Hamilton.

“Ella ha sido un apoyo y una fuerza motriz para sacarnos de nuestra zona de confort”, apuntó. “Políticamente, estamos muy mezclados y esto ha logrado juntar a muchas personas”.

Al principio, apuntó Schenone, algunos miembros de la congregación estaban preocupados de que la iglesia estuviera ayudando a inmigrantes indocumentados, pero cuando resultó claro que estaban ayudando a personas que buscaban entrar legalmente en Estados Unidos mediante el proceso de asilo, respaldaron la iniciativa.

Carol Hamilton, que preside el [equipo de] compromiso comunitario del Buen Samaritano, saluda a Tyler Seibert, que también es miembro del grupo de respuesta rápida, mientras entrega donativos a la iglesia. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

El Buen Samaritano ha ayudado a unos 6.000 solicitantes de asilo desde octubre, cuando el ICE comenzó a liberar  a gran número de estos solicitantes en comunidades sin sistemas de apoyo. Fue entonces cuando se movilizaron el Buen Samaritano y otros aliados de la Red de Respuesta Rápida de San Diego, una coalición de organizaciones de derechos humanos, servicios sociales y ayuda legal que ya existía.

Shelters les ofrece a los solicitantes de asilo un lugar donde puedan encontrar alimento, descanso, una ducha y ropa antes de abordar los autobuses y aviones para reunirse con miembros de su familia en todo el país, dijo Schenone, que ha usado su fondo discrecional para proporcionar dinero para el viaje a familias  que siguen para otras partes del país.

“Uno no puede simplemente  poner a esta gente en el autobús sin alimento, sin pañales, sin dinero”, señaló. “Los verdaderos héroes son las personas [voluntarias] que se personaron en la estación de autobuses”.

A partir del momento de la necesidad inicial, la comunidad interreligiosa abogó por una declaración de crisis, esperando que el gobierno ayudaría de la manera que lo hizo en 2016 cuando hubo un aumento de solicitantes de asilo haitianos que cruzaron la frontera, dijo Kevin Malone, director ejecutivo del Proyecto Organizativo de San Diego, una red no partidista y multirreligiosa de 28 congregaciones del Condado de San Diego.

“El ex gobernador de California] [Jerry] Brown abrió el arsenal para procesar a muchísimas personas de manera realmente rápida, pero ahora la situación es completamente diferente, no están haciendo cruzar a miles de personas en un corto período… ha habido de 50 a 70 al día durante mucho tiempo, y de una manera que les deja en la calle”.

“Sin nosotros se habrían sumado a la población indigente —personas que están llegando sin dinero— y eso habría sido atroz”, dijo Malone. “Pudimos actuar rápidamente porque contábamos con estas redes ya existentes”.

Finalmente, después de que el albergue temporal de la red se vio obligado a mudarse cuatro veces por razones de seguridad; el 29 de enero, la Junta de Supervisores de San Diego aprobó arrendar un viejo juzgado a la Red de Respuesta Rápida de San Diego para gestionar un albergue para solicitantes de asilo a lo largo de 2019.

Hasta fines de enero, El Servicio de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza de EE.UU. procesó hasta 100 solicitantes de asilo al día; el gobierno de Trump redujo ese número a 20 el 25 de enero.

El 11 de febrero, el gobernador de California, Gavin Newsom, firmó una orden para retirar de la frontera dos tercios de los soldados de la Guardia Nacional del estado, rebatiendo así los argumentos de una “crisis de inmigración ilegal” y calificándola como nada más que un “teatro político”, según una información de Reuters.

El 15 de febrero, el presidente Donald Trump declaró una emergencia nacional para construir un muro fronterizo  so pretexto de una invasión en la frontera sur.

El arresto de las personas que cruzan la frontera ilegalmente disminuyó del pico de 1 millón en 2006 a 396.000 en 2018. Los derechos de las personas perseguidas que buscan asilo y de la inmigración indocumentada con frecuencia se han inflado en las discusiones políticas.

“Frecuentes malentendidos públicos de la distinción entre ‘solicitante de asilo’ e ‘inmigrante indocumentado’ se suman a la confusión. Los solicitantes de asilo lo hacen legalmente, lo mismo si se encuentran con agentes en la frontera o después de entrar en Estados Unidos”, dijo Jefferts Schori. “Es vital reconocer que solicitar asilo es un derecho legal. Incluso si una persona cruza la frontera sin permiso oficial, el derecho internacional exige que se escuche la solicitud de asilo”.

La Iglesia Episcopal, a través de las resoluciones de la Convención General y del Consejo Ejecutivo, tiene un largo historial de apoyo a los refugiados, a los solicitantes de asilo y a los migrantes. Durante la 79ª. Convención General que se celebró en julio pasado en Austin, Texas, los episcopales se congregaron frente a un centro de detención que albergaba a mujeres migrantes en pública denuncia de las políticas del gobierno de Trump que separan familias.

Al mismo tiempo, los episcopales se han unido a los empeños interreligiosos a través del Sudoeste para responder y arrojar luz sobre la crisis humanitaria en la frontera en lugares como El Paso, Texas, que limita con Ciudad Juárez, y San Diego.

La vía de entrada de San Isidro, que conecta a Tijuana con San diego, es el punto fronterizo más concurrido de Estados Unidos, tanto en lo que respecta a la economía como a la gente. Personas y estudiantes cruzan diariamente la frontera para trabajar y para asistir a la escuela.

Un agente del Servicio de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza de EE.UU. patrulla la cerca entre Tijuana, México, y San Diego, California, en lo que es, por el lado de Estados Unidos, el Parque de la Amistad [Friendship Park]. Foto de Antonio Zaragoza para ENS.

Durante 20 años una cerca fronteriza de tablones ha separado San Diego de Tijuana. Los agentes de la Patrulla Fronteriza vigilan el lado de Estados Unidos, donde un parque estatal y un estuario protegido forman una barrera entre la frontera y la más cercana comunidad residencial. En el lado de Tijuana, la gente vive junto a la cerca, que se extiende hasta el océano Pacífico.

Sin embargo, la actual cerca fronteriza no ha detenido la llegada de caravanas de migrantes y de solicitantes de asilo a la frontera. (En 2014, un número sin precedentes de menores no acompañados que huían de la violencia en América Central fueron detenidos cruzando la frontera).

La cerca fronteriza entre Tijuana, México, y San Diego, California, se construyó por primera vez en los años 90 durante el gobierno del presidente Bill Clinton. Foto de Antonio Zaragoza para ENS.

Cientos de migrantes centroamericanos empezaron a llegar el 14 de noviembre de 2018, a Tijuana y otros puntos de entrada. Las caravanas han sido politizadas en Estados Unidos y en sus países centroamericanos de origen, Guatemala, El Salvador y Honduras, donde uno de los principales móviles de la migración —los desplazamientos forzados por la violencia – con frecuencia se niega. Aquí en Estados Unidos, Trump ha llamado a los migrantes económicos y a los solicitantes de asilo un “asalto a nuestro país” y en noviembre pasado el Presidente desplegó tropas de la Guardia Nacional en la frontera.  Trump ha amenazado con suspenderle la ayuda a Guatemala, El Salvador y Honduras por cuenta de las caravanas.

“La actual crisis fronteriza se centra en ayudar a los solicitantes de asilo a que abandonen la frontera para esperar por las sentencias de sus casos. El nivel de violencia en América Central ha causado que miles de personas  hayan huido para salvar sus vidas, y muchos buscan asilo en Estados Unidos”, dijo Jefferts Schori. “Esos que buscan asilo son mujeres con niños pequeños, familias, menores no acompañados e individuos solteros en edad laboral.

“Han dejado su país porque tienen miedo, en particular después de que miembros de su familia y amigos han sido asesinados y amenazados en un lugar al que solían llamar patria, pero que ya no sostiene la vida”.

— Lynette Wilson es reportera y jefa de redacción de Episcopal News Service. Pueden dirigirse a ella en lwilson@episcoalchurch.org. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

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3 de marzo: Domingo de la Misión Mundial

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 3:37pm

Tradicionalmente celebrado el último domingo después de Epifanía, este año, el Domingo de la Misión Mundial se celebra el 3 de marzo.

El Domingo de la Misión Mundial, los episcopales están invitados a enfocarse en el impacto global del llamado del Pacto Bautismal de “buscar y servir a Cristo en todas las personas” (Libro de la Oración Común, p. 225). También es una oportunidad para crear conciencia de las muchas formas en que la Iglesia Episcopal participa en la misión de Dios en todo el mundo.

El Obispo Presidente y Primado Michael B. Curry de la Iglesia Episcopal, invita a la iglesia a observar el Domingo de la Misión Mundial en un video aquí.

“Como cristianos, estamos llamados a cruzar fronteras, a través de muros, de divisiones y a poner siempre a la familia en primer lugar, y nuestra familia es la humanidad entera. No hay fronteras geográficas en el mundo de Dios, solo hay amor, y el amor no conoce fronteras”, dijo el Reverendo David Copley, Director de Alianzas Globales y Personal de la Misión en un sermón publicado aquí.

Actualmente, los misioneros de la Iglesia Episcopal sirven en muchos lugares internacionales, incluyendo Aotearoa, Nueva Zelanda y Polinesia, Brasil, Costa Rica, República Dominicana, Inglaterra, El Salvador, Haití, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel / Palestina, Panamá, Filipinas, Qatar, Rumania, Sudáfrica y Tanzania.

Recursos
Recursos adicionales sobre la misión mundial se pueden encontrar aquí.

Miembros actuales de Jóvenes Adultos del Cuerpo de Servicio de la Iglesia Episcopal aquí.

Más información sobre los Voluntarios Episcopales en Misión aquí.

Para obtener más información, comuníquese con Jenny Grant, Oficial de Relaciones Globales y Redes jgrant@episcopalchurch.org.

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Same-sex spouses not invited to next year’s Lambeth Conference of bishops

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 1:41pm

Many of the major liturgies during the Lambeth Conference of bishops take place at Canterbury Cathedral, the seat of the archbishop of Canterbury and what is considered the “mother church” of the Anglican Communion. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is not inviting same-sex spouses to the 2020 Lambeth Conference of bishops.

Public word of Welby’s decision came in an Anglican Communion News Service blog post by Anglican Communion Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon. He wrote that invitations have been sent to every active bishop” because “that is how it should be – we are recognizing that all those consecrated into the office of bishop should be able to attend.” Those invitations traditionally come from the archbishop of Canterbury.

“But the invitation process has also needed to take account of the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage which is that it is the lifelong union of a man and a woman,” Iduwo-Fearon wrote. “That is the position as set out in Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Given this, it would be inappropriate for same-sex spouses to be invited to the conference.”

Idowu-Fearon said that the archbishop of Canterbury “has had a series of private conversations by phone or by exchanges of letter with the few individuals to whom this applies.”

Resolution 1.10 was passed by the conference in 1998 after heated debate.

The Episcopal Church currently has one “active bishop” who has a same-sex spouse. The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool was elected as bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles in December 2009 and consecrated May 2010. She has been bishop assistant in the Diocese of New York since April 2016. She is married to Becki Sander, her partner of more than 30 years.

Diocese of New York Bishop Assistant Mary Glasspool

Glasspool told Episcopal News Service Feb. 18 in a telephone interview that she received a letter from Welby on Dec. 4, 2018, in which he said that he was writing to her “directly as I feel I owe you an explanation of my decision not to invite your spouse to the Lambeth Conference, a decision that I am well aware will cause you pain, which I regret deeply.”

Welby met with Glasspool and Sander in September when he visited Trinity Wall Street. She called it a get-acquainted session which did not touch on the Lambeth Conference.

Glasspool said she and Sander, New York Bishop Andy Dietsche and New York Bishop Suffragan Allen Shin “have been praying about this and talking about this” since receiving the letter. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry also met with Glasspool and Sander to discuss Welby’s letter. “One of my takeaways was how can we make a positive, creative, responsive witness to the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord?” she said about how they and the church should respond to his decision.

Curry was in South Africa Feb. 18 and issued a short statement saying, “I have not yet had an opportunity to consult with appropriate leadership in the church but will do so.”

Both Glasspool and Sander replied to Welby in separate letters later in December. Glasspool said her two-page letter to Welby, parts of which she read to ENS, told him about her 30-year experience in The Episcopal Church “and where the church has come,” and evoked Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, especially his emphasis on just and unjust laws.

“When will the church accept to it the gift of the LGBTQ community?” she asked Welby. “Young people are watching us. If they haven’t written off all of Christianity for being homophobic, they do find The Episcopal Church inviting and inclusive.”

She told the archbishop that “the important thing I want to say is it’s about love. I am talking about people who love one another and look to the church to support them in their life-long marriage where the values of faithfulness, respect, dignity, truth-telling, monogamy and the love that is our loving God’s gift to all of us are upheld.

“After a lifetime of discussion, I am relatively confident that The Episcopal Church will never again turn its back on the LGBTQ community. Will the same be said of Lambeth 2020?”

Spouses who attended the 2008 Lambeth Conference of bishops pose July 25 on the University of Kent campus in Canterbury. Photo: Anglican Archives

Glasspool told ENS that Sander noted in their conversation about Welby’s decision that it seems to be based in part on an apparent assumption that “spouses are simply an extension of the bishop to whom they are married, and that somehow there is a view of marriage that doesn’t quite sit well with an egalitarian or reciprocal or a mutual partnership” model.

The bishop said that she expects to attend Lambeth 2020, and she has asked Sander to come with her for support. “The issue is will she be included in the conversation,” Glasspool said.

Glasspool said she plans to “consult, as much as people are willing” at the House of Bishops’ previously scheduled meeting March 12-15, 2019, at Kanuga outside Hendersonville, North Carolina. “Not with the expectation that we are all of one mind, but because I do not wish to respond only as an individual, but rather with a sensitivity to the body as a whole,” she said.

Prior to the House of Bishops meeting in March, the church’s Executive Council, composed of bishops, clergy and laity, begins its winter meeting Feb. 21 in Midwest City, Oklahoma.

The Rev. Thomas Brown is due to be ordained and consecrated on June 22 as the next bishop of the Diocese of Maine. He is married to the Rev. Thomas Mousin. The diocese elected Brown on Feb. 9. His election is about to enter the consent process canonically required in all bishop elections. A majority of diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction must sign off on each election.

Brown told ENS that he would not comment about the Lambeth Conference decision because of his pending consent process.

Across the communion, it is unclear just how many bishops are included in Welby’s decision. Diocese of Toronto Bishop Suffragan Kevin Robertson married Mohan Sharma on Dec. 28, 2018. The diocese congratulated him on his marriage, which was attended by Toronto Archbishop Colin Johnson and Toronto Bishop Diocesan Andrew Asbil. Robertson has not replied to ENS’ request for comment.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada is scheduled to vote in July 2019 on changing its marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage.

The bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference of bishops pose July 25 for the traditional group photo. Photo: Anglican Archives

The Lambeth Conference is a periodic gathering of bishops from across the Anglican Communion which the archbishop of Canterbury calls and issues invitations. The last gathering was in 2008. The July 23-Aug 2, 2020, gathering will be held, as is tradition, in Canterbury, England, with most of the sessions at the University of Kent.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and his wife, Caroline, are featured on the home page of the 2020 Lambeth Conference. Photo: 2020 Lambeth Conference

Spouses have typically participated in a parallel program. However, in 2020, there will be a joint program for the first time. Spouses of bishops will attend combined sessions “at key points in the overall program,” according to information here. There will also be separate sessions on the specific responsibilities of the ministry for bishops and spouses, according to the Lambeth website. The conference’s website features a photo of Welby and his wife, Caroline. The page was recently changed to add a link to Idowu-Fearon’s blog. It now reads, “the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is sending personal invitations to every eligible bishop and spouse (excluding same-sex spouses) and is looking forward immensely to hosting them.”

Idowu-Fearon’s statement that “all those consecrated into the office of bishop should be able to attend” the Lambeth gathering might be seen as a certain amount of movement beyond the most-recent previous Lambeth Conference. In 2008 then-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams refused to invite Bishop Gene Robinson, who had become the first openly gay and partnered bishop in the Anglican Communion in 2003. He served as bishop of New Hampshire until his retirement in January 2013. He and his then-partner of 25 years Mark Andrew were joined in a civil union in 2008 and married in 2010. They divorced in 2014.

At the House of Bishops meeting in March 2008, three bishops whom then-Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori asked to discuss Robinson’s then-still-pending invitation reported that “a full invitation is not possible.”

Robinson urged his colleagues not to boycott the conference because of his exclusion. Instead, addressing the House, he urged them to participate fully in it, and thanked all who were willing to “stay at the table.”

At the end of that meeting, the bishops said in part that “Even though we did not all support the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire, we acknowledge that he is a canonically elected and consecrated bishop in this church. We regret that he alone among bishops ministering within the territorial boundaries of their dioceses and provinces, did not receive an invitation to attend the Lambeth Conference.”

Then-Diocese of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson signs copies of his book “In the Eye of the Storm” July 31, 2008, in the Lambeth Conference Marketplace on the University of Kent campus in Canterbury. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Some other bishops from across the more than 165 countries in which the Anglican Communion is present refused to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference due to theological disagreements with the main body of the church about the full inclusion of LGBTQ people and women in the life of the church.

Robinson went to the gathering in what he called an act of witness. Organizers permitted him to be in the Lambeth Marketplace, the conference’s display and sales area, an invitation he initially refused. He was also allowed to attend two receptions hosted by Episcopal Church bishops that were specifically intended to allow him to meet colleagues from around the world. He was invited to worship and speak at several other venues in the Canterbury area, including the University of Kent’s law school.

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

 

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Interfaith community, San Diego Episcopalians continue to respond to asylum seekers’ needs

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 3:24pm

Interfaith volunteers at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in San Diego, California, gather weekly in the church’s sanctuary to sort through clothing and other donations. Here, Senior Warden Penny Powell and the Rev. Janine Schenone, rector, sort through donations. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – San Diego, California] When last fall U.S. Immigration and Customs Control alerted the San Diego Rapid Response Network it would begin releasing asylum seekers – including families with children – onto the streets, the county’s interfaith and social and human rights organizations responded by setting up temporary shelters.

“A rapid response team here in San Diego brings asylum seekers who’ve been released by border officials to a shelter, provide food and medical attention, and assists the asylum seekers in arranging transportation to family members or others who will host them while their cases are adjudicated, said San Diego Assisting Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, adding that the adjudication process can sometimes take years.

Good Samaritan Episcopal Church was one of the many churches that stepped up identifying immediate needs, such as food, clothing, diapers and cash assistance. The church began accepting clothing and other donations in late October. It has continued to receive donations daily, and once a week, an average 10-12 interfaith volunteers sort clothing donations by size and wearability.

“We felt it was the right thing to do,” said Carol Hamilton, Good Samaritan’s outreach chair. “One of the most beautiful things for us is that it has drawn in other faith communities.”

In the three years the Rev. Janine Schenone has served as rector, she’s encouraged the congregation to get more involved in social justice and outreach, said Hamilton.

“She’s been such a support and driving force to move us out of our comfort zone,” she said. “We are very mixed politically and this has brought so many people together.”

At first, said Schenone, some members of the congregation were concerned the church was helping undocumented immigrants, but when it became clear they were assisting people seeking legal entry into the United States through the asylum process, they got behind it.

Carol Hamilton, Good Samaritan Episcopal Church’s outreach chair, greets Tyler Seibert, who is also a rapid responder, as he delivers donations to the church. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Good Samaritan has assisted some 6,000 asylum seekers since October, when ICE began releasing large numbers of asylum seekers into communities without a support system. That was when Good Samaritan and other partners in the San Diego Rapid Response Network, an existing coalition of human rights, social services and legal aid organizations, mobilized.

Shelters offer asylum seekers, a place where they can find food, rest, a shower and clothing before boarding buses and airplanes to unite with family member across the country, said Shenone, who has used her discretionary fund to provide travel cash to families traveling to other parts of the country.

“You can’t just stick people on the bus without food, diapers, money,” she said. “The real heroes are the people [volunteers] who were showing up at the bus station.”

From the time of initial need, the interfaith community  advocated for a crisis declaration, hoping the government would assist the way it did in 2016 when a surge of Haitian asylum seekers crossed the border, said Kevin Malone, executive director of the San Diego Organizing Project, a nonpartisan, multi-faith network of 28 congregations in San Diego County.

“[Former California] Gov. [Jerry] Brown opened up the armory to process a lot of people really fast, but it’s a completely different crisis, they are not moving thousands across in a short period … it’s been 50-70 a day for a long time, and in a way that leaves them on the street.”

“Without us they would have added to the homeless population – people were coming across with no money – and that would have been awful,” said Malone. “We were able to act quickly because we have these existing networks.”

Eventually, after the network’s temporary shelter was forced to move four times because of safety concerns, on Jan. 29 the San Diego Board of Supervisors voted to lease an old courthouse to the San Diego Rapid Response Network to operate a shelter for asylum seekers through 2019.

Until late January, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol processed up to 100 asylum seekers a day; the Trump administration reduced that number to 20 on Jan. 25.

On Feb. 11, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an order to withdraw two-thirds of the state’s National Guard troops from the border, disputing claims of an “illegal immigration crisis” and calling it nothing but “political theater,” according to coverage from Reuters.

On Feb. 15, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to build a border wall citing an invasion on at the southern border.

Apprehension of people crossing the border illegally fell to some 396,000 in 2018, down from a peak of 1 million in 2006. The rights of persecuted people to seek asylum and undocumented immigration often become conflated in political arguments.

“Frequent public misunderstanding of the distinction between ‘asylum seeker’ and ‘undocumented immigrant’ adds to the confusion. Asylum seekers do so legally, whether they are met by officials at the border or after entering the United States,” said Jefferts Schori. “It is vital to recognize that seeking asylum is a legal right. Even if a person crosses the border without official permission, international law requires that the request for asylum be heard.”

The Episcopal Church, through General Convention and Executive Council resolutions, has a long history of supporting refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. During the 79th General Convention held last July in Austin, Texas, Episcopalians gathered outside a detention center housing migrant women in public witness to the Trump administration’s immigration policies separating families.

In the time since, Episcopalians have joined interfaith efforts across the Southwest to respond to and shed light on the humanitarian crisis at the border in places like El Paso, Texas, which borders Ciudad Juarez, and in San Diego.

The San Ysidro port of entry connecting Tijuana and San Diego is the busiest border crossing in the United States, both in terms of economics and people. People and students cross the border daily for work and to attend school.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent patrols the U.S.-Mexico border fence between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, California, in what is, on the United States side, Friendship Park. Photo: Antonio Zaragoza for Episcopal News Service

For 20 years a slatted border fence has separated San Diego from Tijuana. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agents patrol the United States side, where a state park and a protected estuary form a buffer between the border and the nearest residential beach community. On the Tijuana side, people live up close to the fence, which extends into the Pacific Ocean.

The existing border fence, however, has not deterred migrant caravans and asylees’ arrival at the border. (In 2014, an unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in Central America were detained crossing the border.)

The border fence between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, California, was first constructed in the 1990s during President Bill Clinton’s administration. Photo: Antonio Zaragoza for Episcopal News Service

Hundreds of Central American migrants began arriving Nov. 14, 2018, in Tijuana, and other ports of entry. The caravans have been politicized in United States and in their Central American countries of origin, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, where one of the main drivers of migration – forced displacement by violence – is often denied. Here in the United States, Trump has called economic migrants and asylum-seekers an “assault on our country,” and last November the president deployed National Guard troops to the border.

“The current border crisis is centered on aiding asylum seekers as they leave the border to wait for their cases to be adjudicated.  The level of violence in Central America has caused thousands of people to flee for their lives, and many are seeking asylum in the United States,” said Jefferts Schori. “Those seeking asylum are women with small children, families, unaccompanied minors and single individuals of working age.

“They have left home because they are afraid, particularly after family members and friends have been killed and threatened in a place they used to call home, but no longer supports life.”

-Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of Episcopal News Service. She can be reached at lwilson@episcoalchurch.org.

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Bishop of Tamale Jacob Ayeebo dies in Ghana at age 58

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 2:29pm

Bishop of Tamale Jacob Ayeebo welcomes Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to Ghana in 2017 during a pilgrimage organized by Episcopal Relief & Development.

[Anglican Communion News Service] Tributes have been paid to Bishop of Tamale Jacob Ayeebo, who died suddenly this week in the office of his diocese’s development agency. He was 58.

Ayeebo, the second bishop of Tamale in Ghana, part of the Church of the Province of West Africa, died Feb. 12 at the offices of the Anglican Diocese Development and Relief Organization, in Bolgatanga, Ghana. The cause of death was reported as congestive cardiac failure. Funeral arrangements are being finalized. He leaves a wife, Rita, a daughter and three sons.

During his tenure, Ayeebo built a partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development and collaborated with Episcopal Church staff on integrated programs to address poverty and disease in the Upper East region.

Episcopal Relief & Development also organized pilgrimages to Ghana to showcase Ayeebo’s work, including one in 2017 that included Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and members of his staff. Episcopal Relief & Development issued a statement on Ayeebo’s death here, saying, “we will always remember Bishop Jacob’s warmth and friendship.”

Read the full article here.

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Bishop travels 8,000 miles for confirmations in world’s southernmost Anglican cathedral

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 2:19pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Three people were confirmed this week in the southernmost cathedral in the Anglican Communion – but the cathedral’s bishop, the Rt. Rev. Tim Thornton, had to travel some 8,000 miles from his office in London, England, for the service. The Falkland Islands are not within an Anglican Communion province but rather an Extra Provincial area under the metropolitical authority of the archbishop of Canterbury. The bishop to the Falklands is a post held by the bishop at Lambeth – the senior episcopal assistant to the archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace.

Read the full article here.

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Episcopal seminaries embrace role as testing grounds for the Way of Love in action

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 4:08pm

[Episcopal News Service] At Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, it is being used to frame small group discussions about cultural issues and Friday morning worship. At Episcopal Divinity School in New York, it has deepened the seminary’s commitment to justice issues. And at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California, it is shaping seminarians’ field work in local parishes.

This is the Way of Love in action, with an emphasis on Christian formation.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry unveiled the Way of Love’s seven practices in a sermon during the opening Eucharist of the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas, in July. He and his team of advisers looked to monastic traditions for their model in developing the Way of Love’s framework for a rule of life based in seven practices: turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go and rest.

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers is canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The church encouraged Episcopal seminaries and schools of theology to incorporate this framework into their programs of theological education in ways appropriate to their individual contexts. Such institutions were an ideal venue for experimentation because of their “quasi-monastic” atmosphere and their influence on the future of the church, said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care.

“Change in the experience of theological education yields a changed church,” Spellers told Episcopal News Service. “If we can help to make seminary a time of deep engagement with spiritual practice and … help people to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus during those years, pretty soon you’ve got a very different church.”

Virginia Theological Seminary, or VTS, is one example of an institution that has taken the Way of Love and run with it.

Lisa Kimball, the school’s associate dean for lifelong learning and a member of the team that helped Curry develop the Way of Love, said she is supervising a student developing a Way of Love parish retreat for Lent as part of an independent study. Kimball also has presented the Way of Love to the Christian formation courses she teaches, while highlighting the growing church-wide trove of resources based on the framework.

We're sponsors of The Episcopal Church's Way of Love – how are you incorporating it into your every day life? https://t.co/FhUes3inRl https://t.co/FhUes3inRl

— Lifelong Learning @ VTS (@VTSLifelong) January 10, 2019

Students are leading the way, too. A VTS student worship team kicked off Friday morning services this month centered on the Way of Love practices. A working group at the seminary is developing a faculty rule of life based on the Way of Love. It has been shared with the campus community by e-newsletter, and Kimball encourages students who find examples in the congregations where they worship to bring those ideas back to campus and share them.

“I feel committed to the ambitious goal that everyone that graduates from VTS will be familiar with the Way of Love as the perfect process it is for discipleship,” Kimball told ENS, “and therefore will know where the resources are and will have a powerful model for inviting people to practice the way of love … in ministry.”

Worshippers were given Way of Love wallet cards at the July 5 opening Eucharist of the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas, as seen in this photo taken from an Episcopal Church video of the service.

The seven practices should be familiar to most Christians, but by pulling them together in a rule of life, the presiding bishop’s team sought to give Episcopalians a clearer idea for how to live out their faith as part of what Curry often calls “the Jesus Movement.”

  • TURN: Pause, listen and choose to follow Jesus.
  • LEARN: Reflect on Scripture each day, especially on Jesus’ life and teachings.
  • PRAY: Dwell intentionally with God each day.
  • WORSHIP: Gather in community weekly to thank, praise and dwell with God.
  • BLESS: Share faith and unselfishly give and serve.
  • GO: Cross boundaries, listen deeply and live like Jesus.
  • REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace and restoration.

That’s the starting point. Episcopal institutions, from Forward Movement to Forma, are building from there, treating the Way of Love like a piece of open-source computer software for the soul. The Episcopal Church is promoting its own resources tied to the liturgical year, with materials now available for Lent.

“The approach that we’ve tried to make is to offer a framework, offer a very generous shape for a rule of life, and then step back and let the people and the spirit take it where they need to go,” Spellers said. “I’m very excited to see what will seminaries do with this.”

Most recently, Episcopal seminaries and schools of theology have been applying the Way of Love to their Lenten preparations.

The Rev. Caroline Carson, a deacon and third-year seminarian at Sewanee: University of the South in Tennessee, has produced Lenten reflections each year while at the seminary, and this year she is incorporating the seven Way of Love practices.

“Sometimes, it may be a call to fast for that afternoon in reflection of an area of the Anglican Communion in strife,” Carson said in an emailed statement. “Sometimes, it may be an invitation to worship in a different setting. Often it will be a question asking how will you be a visible sign of God’s love to someone today?”

Carson also is developing a Way of Love community bulletin board to collect students’ ideas, and she plans to create a Way of Love station in campus commons room, where students can come for baked goods and take slips of paper that combine lines of Scripture with calls to reflect, pray and learn.

At the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, “we really don’t implement that within our curriculum officially,” spokesman Eric Scott said, but the seminary maintains close relationships with local parishes, where talk of the Way of Love has “exploded.”

“It kind of informally works its way into classrooms,” Scott said. “We really empower our students to build those things organically on their own.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaches Feb. 11 at General Theological Seminary’s Chapel of the Good Shepard in New York. Photo: General Theological Seminary

General Theological Seminary in New York also is in the early stages of considering how to incorporate the Way of Love into its program. It received plenty of inspiration Feb. 11 when Curry preached in the seminary’s Chapel of the Good Shepherd.

“This Jesus of Nazareth has shown us the way,” Curry said. “This Jesus of Nazareth, his way of love is the way of life. It is the way that will set us all free.”

Episcopal Divinity School, or EDS, welcomed its first cohort of 10 seminarians in the fall after reaching an affiliation agreement with Union Theological Seminary. Miguel Escobar, director of Anglican Studies at EDS, said he and the Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of EDS, were inspired by Curry’s sermon at General Convention when he first spoke of the Way of Love.

EDS “has a long history of seeing the Gospel as very focused on justice issues,” Escobar said in an interview with ENS, citing racial justice, poverty alleviation and environmental conservation. The Way of Love, from that perspective, is also the way of justice, he said, and with each of the seven practices, “there’s actually a public justice aspect of it.”

“Go,” in particular, speaks to the Christian call to work toward a better community for all members, Escobar said. The “Turn” toward Jesus also entails a turn away from hatred and fear. And in “Prayer,” Episcopalians are urged to pray for the least among us, but also to pray with the least among us in the community, he said.

Although EDS has not yet created any new educational or formation offerings for its students based specifically on the Way of Love, Escobar said the presiding bishop’s rule of life is informing conversations in EDS classrooms and beyond.

Jed Dearing, a second-year seminarian at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, or CDSP, is helping a nearby Episcopal parish, St. John’s in Ross, connect its parishioners to the Way of Love. At a parish retreat in September, he led a session about developing a rule of life and another session about contemplative prayer as seen through the lens of the Way of Love.

St. John’s has been active in encouraging parishioners to take up the seven practices. This month, the congregation is focusing on “Bless,” with a discussion group on Feb. 10 and a “mini-retreat” planned for March 2.

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

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Southern Virginia Bishop Herman Hollerith retires, is honored by Annual Council

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 3:24pm

From left to right, Bishop James B. Magness, Carolyn Magness, Lizzie Hollerith and Bishop Herman Hollerith.

[Diocese of Southern Virginia] The Rt. Rev. Herman Hollerith IV, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, retired on Dec. 31, 2018. Bishop Hollerith was elected on Sept. 27, 2008, and was consecrated as the tenth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia in Feb. 13, 2009.

Hollerith announced his intention to retire in his address to the 126th Annual Council of the Diocese in 2018. “We have come a long way together,” Hollerith told council, “You have taught me much.” He went on to say that the time had come for “fresh eyes and fresh energy to lead the community forward.”

On Feb. 8, 2019, at its 127th Annual Council, the Diocese honored Hollerith for his 10 years of ministry in Southern Virginia. In his address to Council, Bishop Diocesan Pro Tempore James B. Magness gave thanks for Hollerith’s leadership following a very difficult time in the life of the Diocese of Southern Virginia. “For 10 years he worked to build staff and structures that would, as we used to say during my Navy career, right the ship,” Magness told council.

Hollerith undertook a significant diocesan reorganization during his tenure, including the relocation of the diocesan office to a more central and accessible location. He led Southern Virginia in a diocesan response to the sins of slavery and racism, establishing the Repairers of the Breach Task Force.  A service of Repentance, Reconciliation & Healing which included a formal apology from the bishop on behalf of the Diocese of Southern Virginia, was held in 2013. Hollerith supported the full inclusion of LGBTQ Christians in the life of the church, establishing the Living a Holy Life Task Force to foster conversation throughout the diocese around issues of human sexuality.

Hollerith has served in numerous leadership roles during his tenure, including as a member of the board of the College for Bishops; a member of the House of Bishops Committee on Pastoral Development; a member of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops; and a member of the board of the Berkeley Divinity School, the Episcopal Seminary at Yale University.

The Standing Committee of the diocese has appointed a Nominating/Search Committee and a Transition Committee to discern bishop candidates and conduct an election. Names are currently being received and an election is scheduled for Sept. 21, 2019. Information about the process and timeline for the election of the new Bishop are available at diosova.org.

The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia stretches from Virginia’s Eastern Shore to the Dan River, with 102 congregations organized into nine convocations. It has 102 active priests and 12 active deacons. Chanco on the James is the camp and conference center, located on the banks of the James River in Surry County. The Diocesan Office is located in the City Center area of Newport News.

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Chicago Bishop Jeffrey Lee to retire in 2020

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 10:55am

[Episcopal News Service] Diocese of Chicago Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee sent a letter to his diocese on Feb. 14 announcing his intention to step down in August 2020. He has called for the election of his successor. The text of press release about his announcement follows.

Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee announced today that he will retire as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago in August 2020, and called for the election of his successor.

“When I reflect on the work we have done together, I am most grateful for our shared success in focusing the work of my staff and the diocese’s leaders on congregational vitality,” Lee wrote in a letter to the diocese. “As you have often heard me say, the only excuse for something like a diocese is to foster thriving congregations in local communities using the best data and resources we can muster. Together, through prayer and song and fierce conversations, we have accomplished that cultural shift, and it is bearing fruit across our region.”

Lee was ordained in February 2008 to lead a diocese that comprises 33,000 people in more than 120 congregations northern and west central Illinois. His tenure included the reunification of the Dioceses of Chicago and Quincy and a major renovation of St. James Commons, the diocesan headquarters in downtown Chicago, that created a venue for retreats and meetings called the Nicholas Center.

Under Lee, the diocese conducted an examination of the legacy of slavery in its common life, and supported the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender queer Christians in the sacramental and ministerial life of the church and policies to stem the tide of gun violence in the region and across the country. Through advocacy and personal support, members of the diocese also worked against the persecution and marginalization of immigrants and refugees.

Planning for the election of Lee’s successor began last night when Bishop Todd Ousley, the Episcopal Church’s bishop for pastoral development, held a teleconference with the diocese’s Standing Committee, which will oversee the search and transition process.

“In my remaining time as your bishop, I intend to do all I can to advance the excellent work of the Taskforce on Hispanic/Latino Mission and Ministry Sustainability, to forge a new partnership between the diocese and Episcopal Charities, and to attract energetic, talented clergy who want to join us in fostering vital congregations,” Lee wrote. “Finally, I hope to leave a gift for the future vitality of God’s ministry in this place by increasing the diocese’s program endowment and supporting the capacity of congregations to raise capital funds.”

The Standing Committee will inform the clergy and people of the diocese about the search process that will soon begin, Lee wrote. The process typically includes the formation of search and transition committees, the development of a diocesan profile, a period of nominations, the announcement of a slate of nominees, and an election in 2020 on a date to be determined.

“As we travel together toward the place where our paths will diverge, I will cherish each remaining opportunity to celebrate the sacraments with you and to pray together for a time of transition filled with hope and trust in God’s never-failing goodness,” Lee wrote.

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Virginia bishop calls on Episcopalians to ‘look at our own lives’ as blackface scandals grip state

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 3:56pm

[Episcopal News Service] Diocese of Virginia Bishop Suffragan Susan Goff issued a statement this week about the series of political scandals that have engulfed the state, which Goff said provide Episcopalians an opportunity to “take a close look at our own lives” and to repent.

“This scandal invites us to confess the ways we have fallen short of the image of God that is in us and to repent, to turn around and act in a different way,” Goff said Feb. 12. “The political realities of this current moment in our commonwealth are complex, but our faith response is not. Out of our own confession and repentance, we can call for the repentance of our leaders.”

Protesters demonstrate Feb. 2 outside the Virginia governor’s mansion in Richmond demanding Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam resign. Photo: Reuters

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has faced widespread calls to resign over revelations that he wore blackface in the 1980s, a scandal sparked by the discovery of a photo on his college yearbook page showing a someone in blackface standing next to another person dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Northam, a white Democrat, has said he intends to stay in office as the political uproar has spread to include other top Virginia leaders. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is black, has since been accused of sexual assault by two women, and two additional white politicians in the state, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, have come forward to admit their own experiences wearing or promoting blackface decades ago.

Virginia Gov. Northam says he wants "to heal that pain" of racial inequality and won't resign, according to a Washington Post report https://t.co/xnnsHTHdBl pic.twitter.com/v1NLNEEqy6

— CNN (@CNN) February 9, 2019

Blackface’s roots date to the pre-Civil War era, when white performers in the North and South would darken their skin to spoof black characters, often with exaggerated features and gestures that served to glorify negative stereotypes of black appearance and behavior. The tradition, which persisted into the 20th century in everything from pop culture to college parties, is widely condemned today as racist.

“After World War II, black Americans, by dint of a long struggle, finally managed to shame white Americans into not doing blackface anymore. And then other ethnic groups continued shaming white Americans into not doing other kinds of ethnic face since then,” John Strausbaugh, author of “Black Like You,” said in an interview with Vox. “Certainly by the 1960s, blackface had become one of the few very absolute taboos in American culture.”

In the Diocese of Virginia, Goff has taken on the role of ecclesiastical authority while the diocese seeks a successor for Bishop Shannon Johnston, who stepped down last year. The diocese encompasses 38 counties in the northeast third of the state, including suburban Washington, D.C.

Susan Goff

In her Feb. 12 statement, Goff, who is white, alluded to “the painful legacy of racism in our nation.”

“White American culture once not only tolerated white people donning blackface, but embraced it as a form of entertainment. Yet it was always hurtful, demeaning and insulting to people of African descent,” Goff said. “What was accepted back then was not acceptable, and it is not acceptable now.”

The Episcopal Church has identified racial reconciliation and healing as one of its three top priorities, in addition to evangelism and creation care, under Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the church’s first African-American leader. General Convention in 2015 placed such racial healing work in the context of the church’s decades-old efforts to confront its historic complicity in the sin of racism during the eras of slavery and segregation. Additional resolutions targeting racism were approved in 2018.

Becoming Beloved Community, a framework launched in 2017, has become the church’s cornerstone initiative on racial reconciliation, symbolized by a labyrinth with four parts: “Telling the Truth,” “Proclaiming the Dream,” “Practicing the Way” and “Repairing the Breach.”

The core questions under the heading “Telling the Truth” include, “What things have we done and left undone regarding racial justice and healing?” Goff echoed that question in her message about the Virginia scandals.

“We as people of faith, no matter what our race, gender or ethnicity, promise in our baptismal vows to respect the dignity of every human being. We also know the power of confession, so much so that we engage in the practice regularly,” Goff said. “This current scandal provides us an opportunity to examine not only the lives of our political leaders, but to take a close look at our own lives.

“When have we done or said things that have diminished the dignity of others? In what activities have we engaged that were once accepted, but never acceptable?”

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

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Alabama Bishop Kee Sloan announces plan to step down at end of 2020

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 1:04pm

[Episcopal News Service] Diocese of Alabama Bishop Kee Sloan issued a message to his diocese on Feb. 9 announcing his intention to step down at the end of 2020. He has called for the election of a bishop coadjutor, who will succeed him as diocesan bishop.

Sloan first announced his plans in an address to the diocesan convention. The text of his written message to the diocese follows.

Hello, friends

This morning in my address to our Diocesan Convention, I called for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor, who we will elect to become my successor. It is my intention to continue to serve as your Bishop Diocesan until the end of 2020. You will be able to see and hear the address here or read it here, but the essence of it is that I think it’s time for me to step aside for new leadership as we continue to share the Good News of the love of God in Jesus Christ in a changing world.

Diocese of Alabama Bishop Kee Sloan

We will release more details about the process of nominating and electing the 12th Bishop of Alabama when they become clear, but it will likely take a year and a half or so, and after we elect and ordain the next bishop, there will be a few months of overlap so that the transition is orderly and smooth.

The part of us that is always on the lookout for something juicy or scandalous will have to be disappointed this time: I have loved being your bishop, and I still do.  I’m not mad at anybody, I haven’t lost my faith, I’m not quitting in a huff, and I’m not being run out of town. It’s just time. By the end of 2020, I will be 65 years old and will have been ordained for over 39 years, 13 as a bishop. By the end of 2020, I will have been married to Tina my sweet and patient wife for 33 years, and we want to have some time for travel and new adventures.

The world is changing quickly, and the Church will either change with it or become a museum.  I find myself more and more thinking in terms of The Way We’ve Always Done It, and I have loved the Episcopal Church too much for too long to get in the way now.  As I say in the address, “Change looked more fun when I was one of the young priests, leaning into the new Prayer Book, supporting the ordination of women.”

So I guess I’m a Lame Duck now, and there’s not much I can do about that.  But it’s not time for goodbyes yet; I’m still the bishop for a while, and I really don’t want to spend the next 20 months saying goodbye every time I say hello.  There will be time for goodbyes later, and we have a lot of work to do before then.

The Lord bless you, and keep you, and make his face shine upon you.

God’s Peace,

+Kee

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Retiring Western New York bishop to serve as assisting bishop in Long Island

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 12:54pm

[Diocese of Western New York] Bishop Bill Franklin, who will retire as bishop of Western New York on April 3, will become assisting bishop in the Diocese of Long Island in May.

“Bishop Bill Franklin is a wonderfully gifted bishop whose experience and wisdom will add a great deal to the overall ministry of our diocese,” said Bishop Larry Provenzano, bishop of Long Island. “I look forward to welcoming my esteemed friend and colleague to the staff of the diocese.”

Franklin, who holds a doctorate in church history, will work with the Long Island diocese’s Mercer School of Theology, conduct parish visitations and support clergy and lay leaders. He joins Bishop Daniel Allotey and Bishop Johncy Itty, who also serve as assisting bishops. Bishop Geralyn Wolf is the assistant bishop of Long Island.

In retirement, Franklin will also teach a fall 2019 course in liturgical history at Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He continues to serve as vice-chair of the Board of the Archives of the Episcopal Church and as chair of the Episcopal Church’s Task Force to Coordinate Ecumenical and Interreligious Work.

The Diocese of Western New York will hold three events to celebrate Franklin’s ministry, including a service on April 7 at which Northwestern Pennsylvania Bishop Sean Rowe will be installed as bishop provisional.

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La Iglesia Episcopal de Colorado anunció el exitoso proceso de consentimiento canónico

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 8:06am

La Iglesia Episcopal de Colorado recibió una notificación del Obispo Presidente y Primado Michael B. Curry y del Registrador de la Convención General, el Reverendo Canónigo Michael Barlowe, de que el obispo electo Kimberly D. Lucas ha recibido la mayoría requerida de consentimientos en el proceso de consentimiento canónico detallado en Canon III.11.3.

Al dar consentimiento a su ordenación y consagración, los Comités Permanentes y los obispos con jurisdicción dan fe de que “no hay impedimento debido al cual” el obispo electo Lucas no debe ser ordenado como obispo, y que su elección se llevó a cabo de acuerdo con los cánones.

El Reverendo Kimberly D. Lucas fue elegido obispo el 27 de octubre. El Obispo Presidente Curry oficiará en su ordenación y servicio de consagración el 18 de mayo.

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Vida Joven de Mexico offers ‘orphans’ a home, education and chance at life

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 5:14pm

A house mom and a tutor help the children with homework after dinner at Vida Joven de Mexico, an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Tijuana, Mexico] Routine and order. That’s the rule of life at Vida Joven de Mexico, an orphanage here where 24 abandoned Mexican children ages 2 to 18 live.

The home is located near a maximum-security men’s prison, where in the 1970s a makeshift “village” of poor women and children emerged to live in proximity with the men. It was dangerous; children witnessed violence, assassinations, drug trafficking and abuse.

In 1996, Episcopalians from Los Angeles learned of the village and responded with Vida Joven, which remains in its original 2,000-square-foot concrete building with a 25-child capacity.

“We were meant to rescue kids from danger, we never intended to be a place for kids to grow up,” said Sylvia Laborin, Vida Joven’s founding director, who will retire later this year after 22 years.

Beth Beall, Vida de Joven’s U.S.-based executive director, makes weekly visits to the orphanage from her home in San Diego, California. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

In Mexico, abandoned children become wards of the state and are sent to shelters, orphanages, or end up living on the streets. Eighty percent of the children who land at Vida Joven come through social service agencies; 90 percent of them have at least one living parent, though all have been either surrendered or abandoned, said Beth Beall, executive director of Vida Joven in the United States.

Tijuana, which borders San Diego, California, is one of the most dangerous cities on the planet. With a population of 1.7 million, the city’s homicide rate reached 2,500 in 2018. An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 children are in state custody in Baja California, the Mexican state on the Baja California Peninsula, where Tijuana is the largest city.  

 Drug trafficking is largely responsible for the violence, and many of the abandoned children’s parents suffer drug addiction. For example, four siblings landed at Vida Joven after a neighbor saw the oldest one, a 7-year-old girl, searching for food in the garbage. Both of the parents were on drugs.

“We have more needs right now and I don’t mean food or supplies or whatever,” said Laborin. “It’s the needs of the children, they are lost … there’s a rootlessness.”

A 5-year-old boy, one of four siblings living at Vida Joven de Mexico, puts up chairs after dinner. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Twenty years ago, the children were “very obedient and nice”; today, however, she said, “they are angry with their families, with everything.”

Family is important in Latin culture; it’s customary for children to remain with their families, living apart from their families can be tough for the children, especially teenagers.

“Some have run away to reunite with family, and it hasn’t worked out well.”

Now an institution of the Diocese of San Diego and an established U.S. nonprofit organization, Vida Joven operates on a $320,000 annual budget: with $220,000 funding operations in Tijuana it costs about $8,000 per child, most of which goes to staff salaries, said Beall.

Vida Joven functions with 15 round-the-clock staff members – including a psychologist and a social worker — none of whom live onsite. The children sleep in dormitories: infants and toddlers together in one room; older boys and girls in separate dorms, each dorm equipped with one bathroom. The beds are neatly made, clothing stacked in piles in the closet. There’s an administrative office, a space dedicated to study, a kitchen and a dining area, which also serves as common space for homework.

On a recent Thursday afternoon, following a meal of refried beans, guacamole and tortillas, the children dutifully opened their notebooks and began their homework.

In modern Mexico, it’s impossible to find a job as a cashier without an education; something Vida Joven’s leadership and supporters emphasize. Mexico provides free public-school education, but it costs about $100 to buy the required uniforms to start kindergarten, where in Tijuana the average worker earns $4 per day, Beall.

A house mom helps a girl with her homework. Education is a big part of life at Vida Joven de Mexico. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Many of the children’s parents have little to no education beyond primary school. In the past, students could leave school after sixth grade; today the government mandates a 12th-grade education. However, as Vida Joven’s leadership has found, capacity exceeds space by some 10,000 students.

Vida Joven’s secondary-education aged students attend private school for $200 a month.

“We are fortunate we have donors who really get it and fund education,” said Beall.

In recent years, Vida Joven has received support not just from U.S. donors, but from people in Tijuana who’ve come to support the orphanage, as well.

“This is what salvation looks like, people are rescuing and saving these kids’ lives,” said Beall. “This is a place of healing. Not all of the stories have happy endings, but we do know that if they were not here, they’d be dead or in the sex trade.”

A mosaic was mounted on a wall in the courtyard of Vida Joven de Mexico in Tijuana. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Beall gestures to a mosaic in the courtyard, “These kids have been shattered to pieces, we give them the opportunity to create something better, she said. “We are here to love, protect and educate.”

Before Laborin became Vida Jove’s director she worked as an esthetician. After her husband died and her children married, she closed her shop. She discovered that “not doing anything” was terrible. Then she saw a job advertisement for Vida Joven. She was one of 100 applicants and five selected for interviews.

“I saw this place and it was filthy,” she said. “I thought, if they hire me, I’ll stay for a little while.”

One of the first things Laborin did was clean up the building; it was something she could control Because even with order and routine, no two days are the same. Twenty-two years ago, when the first children arrived, Laborin expected their belongings to follow. They didn’t; they arrived with clothes on their backs.

“The need, really, I was overwhelmed totally,” she said.

Sylvia Laborin, right, Vida Joven’s founding director in Tijuana, and Beth Beall, Vida de Joven’s U.S.-based executive director, chat during Beall’s visit to the orphanage. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

For the first few years Laborin admits she felt anger toward the children’s parents for abandoning them, until one day a friend told her she had to let go of her anger and put herself in their shoes. After that, she said, she let it go, but admits to this day that sometimes, “I still kinda don’t get it.”

One of the most important things, though, she said is that her eyes were opened to humanity and people’s unseen needs.

“We live in a little bubble; we don’t see,” said Laborin. “I didn’t even know the needs.”

-Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of Episcopal News Service. She can be reached at lwilson@episcopalchurch.org.

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South Sudan’s first Episcopal radio station named in honor of Mothers’ Union president

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 1:41pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Central Equatoria internal province has established the first Episcopal radio station in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. It has been named to honor the tremendous role played bySarah Meling, the first provincial president of the Mothers’ Union who served what was then the Episcopal Church of Sudan from 1985. The station is Sit Sarah Radio 98.1FM – the word “Sit” is coined from an Arabic word meaning Madam.

Read the full article here.

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