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Anglican Consultative Council Digest: May 2 and 3

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 11:12am

Members of the Anglican Consultative Council posed May 2 outside their meeting room in the Gold Coast Hotel for a group photo. The ACC is composed of bishops, clergy and laypeople, making it the communion’s most representative body. The Episcopal Church’s ACC members are Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny, the Rev. Michael Barlowe and Rosalie Ballentine of the Diocese of the Virgin Islands. (Clicking on the photo will enlarge the view.) Of the 99 members present at the 17th meeting of the ACC, 69 are male and 30 are female. More than half are new members. Fifty-six are ordained and 43 are lay. Of the 56 ordained members, nine are women. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] During the Anglican Consultative Council’s 17th meeting here, a number of things happen. In addition to Episcopal News Service’s other coverage, here are some additional highlights from May 2 and 3.

New ACC youth members pose questions to three bishops

Canadian Diocese of Edmonton Bishop Jane Alexander answers a question May 2 from two of the new youth members of the Anglican Consultative Council while Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Southern Africa Archbishop Thabo Makgoba listen. Youth members Isaac Beach of New Zealand, far left, and Basetsana Makena of South Africa, second from left, posed the questions. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

For the first time this ACC meeting includes eight youth members from five regions across the Anglican Communion. The communion’s standing committee agreed to a request from ACC-16 to allow such membership.

On May 2, youth members Isaac Beach of New Zealand and Basetsana Makena of South Africa conducted a panel discussion with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Southern Africa Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and Canadian Diocese of Edmonton Bishop Jane Alexander, posing questions the two said they distilled from conversations with their other youth colleagues.

Makena led off the session asking if the three were satisfied with the fact that the youth members plus three other young people who serve as province-specific members make up 14 percent of the council.

“We’re a work in progress,” Makgoba said, adding that the church needs to diversify its leadership structure to include more youth and women as well as other minorities and races. Alexander said that, while she was not satisfied with the percentage, “it’s amazing to see the youth delegates participating fully in the life of the ACC … but in terms of us really hearing that voice and that passion, I don’t think we’re there yet.”

Welby cautioned that in the Church of England, and probably elsewhere in the communion, “we think youth involvement in the church means sitting on committees,” while true involvement in the church is about “people going out and changing the world.” He said he is wary of “ending up with a series of quotas which would mean that we have identity politics,” but when the effort to change the world only “looks like we’re going out as a bunch of middle-aged white men, then we need to ask ourselves some serious questions about why we’re neglecting the vast majority of the church.”

However, Welby said, “simply putting people on more committees is necessarily not a good answer to the problem.” What empowers young people is “the liberation of people of all ages in ministry and witness and transformation and activism in the right sense, that is being active in the service of Christ, and of deepening religious life.”

ACC-17 members continue their work on resolutions

Council members passed eight resolutions on May 3 from a current list of 24 resolutions.

The council is not actually voting on resolutions, rather they assent. “Are you content to give your general assent to this resolution?” the chair of each session asks the members and does not ask for dissenting voices.

Those attending ACC-17 were encouraged to wear black on May 2. The Anglican Communion supports the World Council of Churches’ Thursdays in Black campaign. https://www.oikoumene.org/en/get-involved/thursdays-in-black The effort urges people “to declare you are part of the global movement resisting attitudes and practices that permit rape and violence.” The organization notes that “often black has been used with negative racial connotations. In this campaign black is used as a color of resistance and resilience.” Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The nine resolutions agreed to on May 3 were ones:

* calling for continued support of the colleges and universities of the Anglican Communion;

* encouraging networks to improve theological education in the Anglican Communion;

* affirming support of the International Anglican Women’s Network and women’s ministries;

* recognizing that there is a global climate emergency, encouraging member churches to make the Fifth Mark of Mission (To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth) “a living testament to our faith” and encouraging the Lambeth Conference 2020 to be as environmentally sustainable as possible;

* calling for work to develop an Anglican Health Network;

* affirming the work of the Anglican Alliance and encouraging provinces to support it;

* commending the emphasis on intentional discipleship and disciple-making in the Anglican Communion Office’s strategic plan and asking the Mission Department to develop a resource hub “to support and equip the culture change in the communion towards intentional sharing and living a Jesus-shaped life; and

* encouraging member churches to invest in pathways to education and employment for young lay people.

ACC members passed five resolutions on May 1, four dealing with welcoming and commending for study statements from some of the communion’s ecumenical dialogues and one concerning safe-church practices. The actions on May 1 and May 3 leave 11 resolutions for May 4, the last day of business sessions for ACC-17. The meeting ends with local parish visits during the morning of May 5 and a joint closing Eucharist that afternoon.

ACC members pray over ‘public statements’ of concern

On May 3, council members also prayed about each of six so-called “public statements” and then spent time in group prayer for the six together. The statements, which could be submitted by any member, are in Archbishop of Hong Kong and ACC Chair Paul Kwong’s words, “expressions of solidarity for particularly concerning or troubling situations around our communion.” They are not the same as formal resolutions.

Full ENS coverage of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council is available here.

They included ones which:

* express sorrow for and support of Sri Lankans following the Easter terrorist attacks, and calls on the government, civil society and people of faith to work together to counter any escalating tensions and promote the safety of all citizens of and visitors to Sri Lanka;

* encourage Anglicans to pray for the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution on the Conflict in South Sudan; for forgiveness, reconciliation and peaceful co-existence among the South Sudanese people, and for support for relief and rehabilitation for internally displaced persons and refugees;

* declares solidarity with the Sudanese people, calls for a peaceful transition to civilian democratic government and the protection of religious freedom especially for the Christian community, urges the international community to support refugees and internally displaced people and their communities, and asks Anglicans to pray for peace and the empowerment of the vulnerable;

* support peace on the Korean peninsula;

* laments continuing tensions between Pakistan and India, gives thanks that hostilities between the countries were de-escalated in February, implores all of both nations to pursue peace and encourages the growth of mutuality and trust in the body of Christ for the Christian churches in each country; and

* laments the natural and humanitarian disaster caused by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, calls Anglicans to send messages of solidarity to the people of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe and to offer practical support through the appropriate relief agencies.

Council voting on standing committee members

The primates on the communion’s Standing Committee are, left to right, Archbishop Philip Freier (The Anglican Church of Australia), Archbishop Paul Kwong (ACC chair, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui), Archbishop Thabo Makgoba (The Anglican Church of Southern Africa), Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Archbishop Julio Murray Thompson (The Anglican Church in Central America), Archbishop Suheil Dawani (The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & The Middle East) and Archbishop Richard Clarke (The Church of Ireland). Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The ACC voted May 3 from among seven nominees for three open seats on the communion’s 15-member Standing Committee.

The council used a secret ballot ranked-voting method in which each member ranked the candidates in order of choice. The nominees were the Rev. Inamar Correa de Souza (The Episcopal Church of Brazil), Joyce Haji Liundi (The Anglican Church of Tanzania), Basetsana Makena (The Anglican Church of South Africa), the Very Rev. Hosam Naoum (The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East), Carlos Romero (Anglican Church of Chile), the Archbishop Prem Chand Singh (The Church of North India) and Fe’iloakitau Kaho Tevi (The Anglican Church Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia).

As the voting process was about to be explained, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby raised a point of order, noting that the fact that materials about the nominees, the process and the ballot were in English, thus “insisting that [members] use English when either they may not read or understand English, or it’s their second or third or even fourth language.”

“Thank you, Your Grace,” responded Darren Oliver, the ACC’s legal adviser, suggesting that the council pause after his explanation of the process so that those who need it can have a “more detailed explanation or translation, if necessary.”

There are no official interpreters at the meeting, which is being conducted in English. Earlier in the week, Chief Operating Officer David White acknowledged that “for a very large number of people here, English is not your first language.” Most documents are available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, something that was not true at ACC meetings in the past.

However, White said, it would have cost the communion office $10,000-15,000 per person to provide interpretation services to those who need it. “We wanted to be able to offer translation service for everybody who needed a certain language translation in order to better understand our business,” he said. “The reality is there are so relatively few of you who have told us that you are not able to follow the meeting that that became financially impossible.”

White said those members were asked to “bring somebody with you and we will deal with translations that way.”

The election results will be announced the morning of May 4, ACC-17’s last business day.

The current ACC members on the Standing Committee are Archbishop Paul Kwong (ACC chair, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui), Maggie Swinson (ACC vice chair, The Church of England), Bishop Jane Alexander (Anglican Church of Canada), Alistair Dinnie (The Scottish Episcopal Church), Jeroham Melendez (The Anglican Church in Central America) and Bishop Joel Waweru (The Anglican Church of Kenya).

Five primates are elected by their peers to sit on the Standing Committee: Archbishop Richard Clarke (The Church of Ireland), Archbishop Suheil Dawani (The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & The Middle East) Archbishop Philip Freier (The Anglican Church of Australia), Archbishop Thabo Makgoba (The Anglican Church of Southern Africa) and Archbishop Julio Murray Thompson (Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America). Welby is also a member.

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

The post Anglican Consultative Council Digest: May 2 and 3 appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Q &A with Justin Welby: Trump, Brexit, China, colonialism, prayer

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 6:43pm

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spent about 70 minutes the evening of May 1, the fourth day of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Hong Kong, answering questions from ACC members and staff. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] During an evening Q&A session here May 1, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby gave his thoughts on a wide range of issues, including President Donald Trump, Brexit, the Anglican church’s colonial legacy, the efficacy of being a leader of the United Kingdom’s established church, the future of the church, his recent visit to China and his prayer life.

He also addressed his decision to exclude the same-sex spouses of bishops invited to the 2020 Lambeth Conference, the second time he has done so since arriving here for the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. Episcopal News Service’s coverage of that part of the session is here.

The 70-minute session was on the record. However, reporters were prohibited from attributing questions to the askers. What follows is an edited collection of Welby’s replies to some of those questions.

Question: How can President Donald Trump enforce a harsh immigration policy and then go to St John’s Lafayette Square, an Episcopal church near the White House, and “we welcome him as if nothing has happened?”

“I’m very careful about trespassing on other countries, but I think as Christians we have an absolute obligation to speak for justice, but we also have an obligation to speak for justice in a way that people can hear. And that is much more complicated.”

Welby said he knows that often at St. John’s “the priests are very direct in their preaching because there’s been comment on it.”

“Jesus came to bring sinners to repentance and there’s not one of us that isn’t a sinner, all of us. I do things as the archbishop of Canterbury that I wake up in the middle of the night doubled up in pain at the thought that I did that thing because I’m so ashamed.”

“I don’t know President Trump at all. I know he’s the president of the United States of America and because I respect the United States of America, I respect the presidency. If I were to say anything [to him], which I will never have the opportunity to do, I would say it to his face, not behind his back.”

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation, and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry belt out the Lord’s Prayer in front of the White House on May 24, 2018. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Welby said he knows that The Episcopal Church has spoken strongly and frequently about the administration’s policies. He was “hugely impressed” by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s participation in a vigil outside the White House in May 2018 just a few days after he preached at the royal wedding (where, Welby noted, Curry’s “incredible sermon” ran 13 minutes and 10 seconds, “which I understand is seven Curry minutes”).

Welby recalled an interview in which Curry said of Trump, “He’s my president and I pray for him every day.”

“That’s what I would say: pray, respect the office and be clear about the nature of what is justice. Let’s not descend into ad hominem, personalized attacks. I think that’s where it goes wrong because we demean them, but we don’t like to be demeaned ourselves. ”

Question: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an established church? Do you see a time when the Church of England will be disestablished?

“I am not a politician, but I am enough of a politician to know that you never say never.”

“What are the advantages? I think we would notice it if we weren’t established in terms of less ability to speak clearly in the public square. We do have a huge right to speak in the public square in the U.K.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion

The disadvantage is “we have duties and obligations. We’re seen as the umbrella for all churches and all faiths, in other words, we’re expected to speak for those of faith, as well as those of Christian faith, and that’s sometimes complicated. It sometimes constrains us, but I think it constrains us very helpfully because it calls us to think very, very hard.”

“It’s not that it constrains us to be pro-government,” Welby said, noting that the bishops who sit in the House of Lords, which includes himself, tend to “vote three times against the government for every time they vote for it.”

“We are people through whom things are done. We educate a million children in state-run schools that are operated by the church under the local parish. I think the balance is that it’s good for us and I really think that it’s very good for the country because it says human beings are more than merely material. It says that the constitution recognizes that we are under God.

“The first thing that the queen did at her coronation in 1952 was walk straight past her throne up to the high altar of Westminster Abbey, kneel and pray silently. Then she went back to the throne, sat down and received homage from the political leaders of the country. She paid her homage to God and then people paid homage to her.”

Question: Can you share with us your role and your vision about the indigenous church and the legacy of colonialism?

“There is a very long history of colonialism” in his family, Welby said, explaining that on his mother’s side, he was the first to be born in the England rather than India since the end of the 18th century. He was raised by his grandmother, who was born in India in 1906 and who “shaped my vision.” She favored India’s independence and she told him she was the only English woman willing to nurse Indian troops with dysentery on the Burma Front during World War II.

Full ENS coverage of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council is available here.

“I was brought up with this attitude that colonialism was bad. That although there were good people in the empire who sought to serve … the principle of imperialism, of colonialism, was deeply wicked. When you come to the Anglican Communion, it seems to me that we have to recognize that it is inherited from the colonial legacy.

“That is why I am so keen on saying we are a family of churches and the archbishop of Canterbury  is the first among equals – among equals. I would hope that sooner rather than later it is possible for people outside the British Isles to be archbishop of Canterbury. It’s a long and complicated process and there’s no point in rushing these things. It’s very dangerous to do that.

“My vision is that, more and more, we become an effective, equal family of churches in which the imperial legacy is only history and a sad history at that.”

Question: What are your thoughts about Brexit?

“Is the press listening? Are you kidding me?” Welby began.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion

He is “ashamed” that he “didn’t listen well enough” and so assumed the vote would go the other way. “We didn’t listen carefully enough,” he said. “So, I’ve become much more cautious in trying to listen harder to the cries of pain from the poor and marginalized, and those shut out.”

“The vote has been taken and I think we have to listen to the vote,” but the issue of establishing a hard border between the Republic of Ireland, which was not part of the vote, and Northern Ireland, which was but did not favor exiting the European Union must be addressed.

“We have to have reconciliation … and that’s going to be unbelievable difficult. How as yet, I don’t think anyone knows. I sit in Parliament and I listen to MPs (members of Parliament) at all levels. I find members of Parliament in the most profound emotional distress. We’re asking them to make the most difficult decision that any British Parliament has had to make since probably during [the Great Labor Unrest of 1910-1914 ]. We need to pray for them and love them and support them because a lot of them are being pushed to the very of endurance.

“I’m not naïve [about the Ireland border issue] and I don’t see a way forward at the moment but in a sense, it’s not my job. Our job is to be those who make peace.”

Question: What is your personal discipline of prayer?

“I got into trouble the last time I answered that,” Welby replied, referring to an interview he gave in January in which he said he prayed in tongues every day.

Sister Patricia Sibusisiwe, of the ACC-17 Chaplain Team and a member of the Community of the Holy Name in South Africa, asks Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby a question during the May 1 session. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

“I’m an early riser and I spend it with Scriptures, and in meditative prayer with the Scriptures. I work though the Bible steadily and systematically, always with an up-to-date commentary, often with one I disagree with because it really matters that it provokes you into thinking.”

“Then I go for a run and I use that for a very systematic time of intercession,” beginning with confession and then prayer for family, colleagues at Lambeth Palace, the Church of England, the upcoming Lambeth Conference, those who lead the congregations and diocese he used to lead, and the five people he has committed to pray for via the Thy Kingdom Come effort.

“I intersperse each section with praise because my spiritual director taught me to do that, expressions of love and praise for God.”

“And then finally I pray for myself. I spend time in between each section telling Jesus, ‘Thank you and I love you.’ And sometimes it goes well and sometimes it goes badly, but it’s what I do.”

He attends both Morning Prayer, daily Eucharist and Evening Prayer. He also tries to have 45 minutes of “silent prayer before the Sacrament” and often prays Compline.

“It’s pretty undramatic.”

“And I’m learning when I wake in the night, to pray.”

Question: Why did you visit the People’s Republic of China for a second time just before this ACC meeting?

“It’s 1.2 billion people. It’s very soon going to have the world’s largest economy. It’s rapidly becoming one of the world’s great military powers. It is a great civilization with profound intelligence within it and thoughtfulness and creativity, and a million other things that are good. Historically, it has only been for the last 150 years that it has not been the world’s greatest economy.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion

“It has a huge church. The official, registered Protestant church is about 35 million people, according to the [government] minister who I saw last week. The official Catholic Church is, I think about 20 [million people] and there are loads of arguments about the unregistered, the underground church, but from what I hear it could more or less double those figures.”

“Christianity is good for China. It brings stability. It brings harmony, peace, the love of those who are vulnerable, particularly the elderly. And Christianity has to have a Chinese face.”

The Christian church has grown since 1951 when the Protestant churches were officially combined and membership numbered about one million, Welby said. “And they’ve done that through difficulties and the Cultural Revolution [1966-76] and all kinds of things. We have so much to learn. They’re our sisters and brothers in Christ.”

“Don’t just leave it to the big international traders and commerce companies to be interested in China. Of all the dumb things to do, that is about the dumbest thing I can think of. We want to bless China.”

“Let’s work with Chinese Christians to exchange ideas. I think we have some things to contribute in terms of training for clergy and laity… I think we could learn from them this passion for Christ in great simplicity. I think we learn from them how to be a blessing to the country you’re in. I’m utterly gripped and fascinated by that country.”

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

The post Q &A with Justin Welby: Trump, Brexit, China, colonialism, prayer appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Archbishop of Canterbury visits social justice ministry while in Hong Kong for ACC-17

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 2:50pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] While in Hong Kong for the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby took a break May 1 to see discipleship in action by meeting with Jackie Pullinger at the Shing Mun Springs Multi-Purpose Rehabilitation Homes.

Pullinger travelled from England to Hong Kong more than 50 years ago and initially began work as a school teacher in the Kowloon Walled City. At that time in the 1960s, it was one of the world’s largest opium-producing centers and was run by criminal triad gangs. In 1967, Jackie founded a youth club to help addicts and others who had been abused find a safe place for them to meet and play. Over many years, it grew it into a major social justice ministry and is overseen by the St. Stephen’s Society.

Read the full article here.

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Alabamians, Episcopalians battle it out over gumbo

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 2:05pm

Toni North and the Birmingham Soul Sisters won the 2018 Chef’s Choice Seafood Award at the 2018 Gumbo Gala, the biggest Episcopal event in Alabama. Photo: Sara Walker

[Episcopal News Service] After Hurricane Katrina disrupted people’s lives across the Gulf Coast, inland cities welcomed the displaced and strangers offered shelter and services. For some evacuees to Birmingham, the hospitality became permanent, and the influx led to a hugely successful Episcopal fundraising event celebrating the distinctive comfort food called gumbo.

At least 3,000 partiers are expected May 4 for the Gumbo Gala, now in its 14th year as the largest Episcopal event in Alabama. The Gumbo Gala annually raises $100,000 for Episcopal Place, which provides 141 units of affordable housing and independent living in Birmingham for seniors and adults with disabilities.

According to Episcopal Place’s history, a “mustard seed” started all this in the 1970s when an elderly Episcopalian wrote to then-Bishop Furman Stough about being no longer able to live by herself and with no place to go. The gumbo competition that started in the wake of Katrina today enables Episcopal Place to care for older adults with fixed or limited incomes who cannot afford rising apartment rents or maintain a home.

Holy Apostles Episcopal Church vied for the Most Divine Gumbo trophy and the Spirit Award at the 2018 Gumbo Gala. Photo: Sara Walker

Get the dog!

In August 2005 as Hurricane Katrina approached the Mississippi coast, Lynnes Thompson told his wife Linda, “Get the dog! We’re gone.” The storm destroyed their home as the couple headed to family in Birmingham, 350 miles northeast of New Orleans.

Because Linda Thompson has chronic health issues, the couple needed somewhere stable near medical facilities, like Episcopal Place. Within a month, they and their dog moved in, as did three other couples from Katrina’s path.

“For these survivors, initially it was about shelter and food, then it was dealing with emotional and mental health issues,” recalled Episcopal Place social worker Shannon Atchenson. “One couple had lost a dog. There was some depression and anxiety. We wanted to give residents a sense of belonging, because when you’ve lost your home, that’s important.”

Residents don’t have to pay for supportive services like transportation, food delivery and pet care; those are covered by donations to the Episcopal Church Foundation and volunteers. With need rising in the hurricane aftermath, Episcopal Place knew “we weren’t going to get support from the government for the Katrina people or for anyone,” Atchenson said.

Meanwhile, as a way of settling in, Lynnes Thompson, a Baptist, began a nondenominational Bible study at Episcopal Place.

“Episcopal Place has done more than their part for all of us,” said Lynnes Thompson, now 78. “It’s quite expensive to operate a place like this that’s so good.”

Food prep at the 2018 Gumbo Gala, the biggest Episcopal event in Alabama. Photo: Sara Walker

Rising water, changing direction

A year before Katrina, Hurricane Ivan had flooded Episcopal Place. Staff sent out an SOS, and Episcopal Place’s activities and volunteer coordinator Amanda Ward recruited her classmate Matt Ennis. The power was out at his corporate job, so he didn’t mind wet vacuuming the flood water at Episcopal Place.

Volunteering that day made him realize that he wanted to work closer with people in need. The next day Ennis quit his job; and was a volunteer supporting Ward’s fundraising efforts at Episcopal Place when Katrina hit.

“Amanda and I had seen how a chili cook-off was a good business model, because you charge people to cook and to eat,” said Ennis, a member of All Saints. “We had these new residents from Hurricane Katrina, so how about gumbo?”

Despite running out of the main attraction, the first Gumbo Gala raised almost $10,000 for Episcopal Place, with jazz and a second line parade that celebrated the Gulf Coast evacuees. Over time, it created even more community pride as Episcopal Place residents competed with their own gumbos, and felt supported by their Birmingham neighbors.

Ennis married Ward in 2007, built a nonprofit fundraising firm and every year gathers their two kids and assorted relatives and friends to compete in the Gumbo Gala. His stinky secret to prize-winning gumbo is the rich seafood broth he prepares in advance with discarded fish scraps from a seafood market.

“Call it a progressive mindset or a sense of social justice, but when Episcopalians get an opportunity like this to help, they just do it,” said Ennis.

The Wednesday Morning Sinners team from All Saints’ Episcopal Church has competed in all 14 years of the Gumbo Gala, the biggest Episcopal event in Alabama. Photo: Sara Walker

Easy to rue/ruin the roux

Early on, St. Luke’s and St. Mary’s were the church teams to beat in the quest for the Most Divine Gumbo, which is determined by the palate of Alabama Bishop Kee Sloan and two local priests. Church of the Ascension called its team the Gumbo Filers, a nod to filé, the powdered sassafras originally used by Native Americans that gives gumbo its flavor. One of the church’s members, Nancy Sharp, lives at Episcopal Place and competes on the team.

The Gumbo Filers twice have won the first-place trophy (an engraved golden stockpot) behind the leadership of professional chef John Wilson, who first tasted gumbo while apprenticing in New Orleans.

“It’s so hard to describe gumbo because it’s an entity unto itself,” he said. “You have to be in the South and taste a lot of gumbo to understand. Everyone makes it their own way and it’s all wildly different. It’s so complex that you need the first few spoonfuls to try to appreciate what’s going on.”

Originally from Boston, Wilson maintains that the heart and soul of any decent gumbo is the roux (pronounced “rue”), a thickener of flour and fat that originated in French cooking. At least one Gumbo Filer will keep a constant eye on the roux. “It needs to be a deep dark color, like roasted chestnuts,” Wilson said. “If you can get it to that point without burning it, you are going to have a good gumbo.”

To the roux, his team will add broth, meat (this year it’s smoked duck) and locally-grown vegetables diced the day before. Their competition entry is 15 to 20 gallons, some of this and some of that, making a sum that is greater than its parts. For Wilson, the multiplying effect (more fish focused, less on loaves) reflects Episcopal outreach.

“Gumbo is typical of what we do and who we are: We help people in need,” Wilson said. “Cooking is what I do, so that’s what I contribute.”

The Rev. Katy Smith Katy Smith (center) volunteers at the 2018 Gumbo Gala, the biggest Episcopal event in Alabama. Photo: Sara Walker

These pit crews tend fires, not change tires 

Competitive cooking for charity draws well in the South, especially in the months between college football seasons. While only the churches compete for the Most Divine Gumbo prize, the Gumbo Gala has divisions for professional chefs, amateur cooks and student teams.

Wilson directs the culinary arts program at nearby Wallace State Community College, which sends a team of chefs-in-training to compete in the Gumbo Gala’s student competition. So will their rival, Jefferson State Community College.

“I think we have an edge on them because I’ve won this a couple of times and know what the judges are looking for,” Wilson said. “It’s about layers of flavor and how you’ve put that together. The judges are pretty experienced professionals with good palates, and they can taste those layers.”

Members of the Dodd Squad Gumbo Cooking Team, representing the Dodd Law Firm, compete in the 2018 Gumbo Gala, the biggest Episcopal event in Alabama. Photo: Sara Walker

This year, 15 churches will compete in a field of 35 to 40 teams. All Saints’ Episcopal Church will send two teams: the Young Adults and the Wednesday Morning Sinners, a team of retired men who have competed in every Gumbo Gala, a 14-year streak. A newcomer in the professional division is Bright Star, in operation since 1907 as Alabama’s oldest restaurant (its seafood gumbo sells for $4.75 a cup and $6.75 a bowl).

“Despite all of the spirited debates and hoopla of which gumbo is best, one thing is for sure: this delicious comfort food that calls Southerners back home is made up of many different ingredients that all arrive from many different places, much like Episcopal Place and the Church,” Whitehurst said.

“Each ingredient is wonderful on its own and when they all come together to make gumbo, something magical happens. In that regard, we are proud Episcopalians who come from many backgrounds, with many ideas and understandings of God’s word. Gumbo Gala started 14 years ago with a mission, much like Episcopal Place. Mission begins with the breath of God, and it is through helping others that we experience his boundless love.”

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

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Episcopalians join thousands on pilgrimage to historical site at former Japanese internment camp

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 3:14pm

Episcopalians joined worshippers at an April 27 interfaith service, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first pilgrimage to Manzanar internment camp, one of 10 where 120,000 Japanese Americans were held during World War II. Photo: Ben Soriano

[Episcopal News Service – Lone Pine, California] Episcopalians from the Diocese of Los Angeles were among thousands who journeyed April 27 to Manzanar National Historic Site, one of the 10 internment camps where nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans were held during World War II, an injustice that speakers said must “never happen again”.

In blistering desert heat and in the shadow of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains, the Kyodo Taiko drummers from the University of California Los Angeles opened the festivities, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first pilgrimage to the former war relocation center in 1969. The day’s events also included stops at the visitor’s center, the museum and a recreation of the rustic wooden barracks that had housed four families each.

During an interfaith service, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Shinto worshippers laid flowers at the iconic Manzanar cemetery monument, where some detainees are buried.

A crowd estimated at about 2,000 listened to speakers who included representatives of the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation and the National Park Service, local activists, politicians, community organizers and Tomochika Uyama, the Japanese consul general in San Francisco.

Nihad Awad, co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, thanked the Japanese American community for its support in difficult times and told the gathering that the injustices leveled against Japanese Americans must never be permitted to happen again.

After teaching his children about the mass incarcerations of Japanese Americans during the war, they feared the same fate amid growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Awad said – so much so that his 10-year-old daughter “packed a suitcase and was ready to be picked up by the federal government.”

“CAIR and a lot of civil rights organizations are working hard each day to ensure that this will never happen to her or any children in America,” he said to cheers and applause.

Glenn Nishibayashi, in front of the iconic monument marking the cemetery at the former relocation center: Photo: Kathy Nishibayashi

Awad’s story felt very personal for Glenn Nishibayashi, a member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, a historically Japanese American congregation in Los Angeles. His mother, Frances Kako, was 16 when she and her family were sent to the camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming.

Kako’s family ran a business that traded goods between the U.S. and Japan, but after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor, “they had to shut down the business; they lost everything,” Nishibayashi told Episcopal News Service.

Nishibayashi, 62, a retired financial planner, was among several dozen Episcopalians from the Los Angeles diocese who made the 220-mile bus trip to the camp to commemorate the anniversary.

“To think, how far we still have to go,” he said. “I realized that we are not much better than we were 75 years ago. It feels like we’re heading backwards these days. It reminds me that we have to be vigilant about fighting racism and xenophobia. While it was in the past, it’s also in the present.”

Nishibayashi and other children of camp survivors say their parents rarely, if ever, discussed those experiences. “It was a dark time for them, and they really didn’t want to share about it.

“Essentially, they were in prison when they had done nothing wrong,” he said. “It wasn’t something they could do anything about. It was a shameful experience for them, even though it wasn’t their fault.”

His son Kendall’s search for answers led them to Heart Mountain and the discovery of photos of Nishibayashi’s grandfather and his mother’s speech as valedictorian of the first high school graduating class at the camp. Published in the Heart Mountain Sentinel at the time, she told some 240 classmates, “we face the future with faith in the U.S.”

Although forced to leave behind all they held dear, Kako called it “a tribute to American democracy … that we have been able to pick up so quickly the strings that we dropped, and that we, as a body, are privileged today to take part in this graduation ceremony.

“We, as the graduating class have two choices before us today,” Kako wrote. “We can remain passive and live in the memory of the things we loved and knew back on the Pacific Coast. Or else we can stand strong and erect and look straight into the future.”

She charged the group to “look forward with a faith in democracy that is shining and strong, for we know that the real America has a big and understanding heart.”

Still, Nishibayashi said, his mother struggled with depression most of her adult life, he believes, because of her camp experiences.

His father, Masaru Nishibayashi, was 18 when his family was sent to the camp in Jerome, Arkansas, Nishibayashi said. “They dressed in their Sunday best,” he said. “They did not resist. My father told me that ‘we were silent. No one spoke out or spoke up for us. We knew we were alone.’”His father’s family members also lost their business, which included renting Asian artifacts and props to Hollywood film studios.

Masuru Nishibayashi served as a translator for U.S. Army military intelligence under Gen. Douglas McArthur, he said. Although detained, he was granted a special pass to come and go from the camp, a card which Nishibayashi still possesses. After the war, his father earned a doctorate in chemistry and became a research chemist.

St. Mary’s, where his parents met and married, still bears witness to the past.

A stained-glass window depicts the shields of the dioceses where the 10 internment camps were located. At the top of the window is the Episcopal Church shield; they are connected by a depiction of barbed wire.

Near the baptismal font is a plaque, listing names of those who served in World War II, including members of the famed 442nd unit. Considered to be the most decorated unit in U.S. military history, its members were made up almost entirely of second-generation Japanese Americans, who fought while many of their family members were in camps.

“My father’s name is on that plaque, and I show it to people when they come to St. Mary’s,” Nishibayashi said. Also posted in the church are copies of Executive Order 9066, signed in 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorizing creation of the camps, and of a “reparations letter” that decades later accompanied $20,000 to survivors.

Nishibayashi laughed. “It’s part of the family lore that my grandmother died on the day (President) Reagan signed that act. We call it her last act of defiance, as if she were saying, ‘I’m going to live long enough so you have to say sorry to me.’”

A recreation of wooden barracks depicts the rustic conditions under which detainees lived, with no heat or running water.

Sharon Matsushige Crandall, 53, also was on the bus trip. For her, the act of standing on this earth where Japanese Americans once were held reduced the sting of past shame connected with their detention and helped alleviate present challenges of feeling caught between cultures.

Crandall also noted the sea of Americans of Asian, African, Latino and European descent, of all ages and genders, who attended the commemoration. “It felt so good to see such a diverse group of people there,” she said. “Years ago, the only people that would even care about something like that were other Japanese people.”

“It was very emotional for me,” she told ENS. “It was almost like the minute I stepped off that bus, I could just feel it, a sense of being understood in that space, with all those people. It was very powerful to me.”

Although her parents shared details of their camp experience with her, she has no tangible record of their early lives, she said. “Sometimes, people post pictures on Facebook of their parents when they were kids, and it makes me so sad,” she told ENS.

“I don’t have any idea what my mom was like growing up. Her family’s possessions were being stored in a church, but the church was burned. People in the community always believed the church was burned because it was known that they were helping the Japanese.”

The community was Brawley, a rural farming area inland from San Diego. Her farmer grandparents were poor, with seven children and few resources. The family plunged into survival mode when her grandfather was arrested, days after Pearl Harbor, suspected of being a spy because he had a short-wave radio. Soon after, the family was sent to the camp in Poston, Arizona.

“My mom was 9 years old when they went to the camp,” Crandall said. “When my grandfather was arrested, he told my grandmother that, as long as you stay in the United States, I’ll find you. But if she went back to Japan, he wasn’t going to look for her.”

When the war ended and families were released, her grandmother had nowhere to go. They stayed in the camp, eventually returning to Los Angeles, Crandall said.

In spite of the challenging times, the family still found a way to focus on joy, an important part of the story, she said. “They arrived to a brown desert, and when they left, they left a green oasis. That’s the Japanese way, to make it better than when you arrived. They planted gardens and tried to make it a home.”

Yet, ever afterward, “my mother lived lean, very lean,” Crandall recalled. “She was absolutely someone who didn’t cling to things, to memorabilia and things like that. Whenever I would complain as a teenager, she’d say, ‘Imagine if you were told to pack a bag and take only what you could carry out the door? What would you carry?”

The shame associated with the camp experience prompted her parents to raise her and her siblings “as fully American,” but they felt caught between cultures, Crandall said.

“I think that part of this intergenerational trauma is this face of, who am I and where do I belong? I’m not fully American because of the way I look. But my parents raised us to be fully American. Part of that was being Christian and eating a certain type of food and not speaking my native language,” she said.

“I think they were worried that we would be identified as not American and not loyal, and people don’t understand that today, and I think sometimes people shame me for that.”

The trip to Manzanar, part of a Transformational Journeys pilgrimage offered by All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, released some of that shame, she said. “I felt when we were at Manzanar the shame that I think that my family and all the internees must have felt, and the importance of naming it so we don’t pass it on.”

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






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Episcopal Church in Montana announces slate of bishop candidates

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 2:58pm

[Episcopal Church in Montana] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Church in Montana announced  on May 1 a slate of three candidates for the 10th bishop of the diocese.

The Rev. Mary Caucutt

Bishop Franklin Brookhart retired on Oct. 31, 2018. The candidates to succeed Brookhart, in alphabetical order, are:

  • The Rev. Mary Caucutt, rector of Christ Church in Cody, Wyoming.
  • The Rev. Nina Ranadive Pooley, rector of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Yarmouth, Maine.
  • The Rev. Marty Elizabeth Stebbins, rector of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Wilson, North Carolina.

The Rev. Nina Ranadive Pooley

The Standing Committee received and approved the slate of candidates by unanimous vote in a closed-door session on April 16. The approval of the slate is the culmination of a process that began in July 2018, when Brookhart’s retirement plans were announced, and elections were held to form a Nominating Committee to lead the process of discerning and proposing candidates for bishop.

The Nominating Committee, under the leadership of Keith Kuhn as chair, conducted listening sessions in every parish in the diocese, conducted a full survey, met regularly and worked hard to bring a strong slate to the diocese.

The Rev. Marty Stebbins

Detailed information on the individual candidates can be found on the diocesan website.

Candidates for bishop still may be added to the final slate through a petition process, the details of which may be found on the diocesan website. Nominations by petition may be filed until 5 p.m. MDT May 15.

The electing convention will take place on July 26 at First Presbyterian Church in Bozeman. The service of ordination and consecration is scheduled for Dec. 7 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Helena.

The Episcopal Church in Montana encompasses 33 congregations across the Big Sky state.

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Welby reiterates dilemma he says he faced over inviting same-sex spouses to Lambeth

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 12:10pm

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spent about 70 minutes the evening of May 1 on the fourth day of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Hong Kong answering questions from ACC members and staff. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby continues to be asked about his decision to exclude the same-sex spouses of bishops invited to the 2020 Lambeth Conference

“For some reason, I thought that question might come up,” Welby replied when Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny asked him during an evening question-and-answer session here May 1 to elaborate on his decision and his thoughts about how to work through the disagreements in the communion over human sexuality.

This is the second time Welby has addressed the issue here. The day before the Anglican Consultative Council, or ACC, began its 17th meeting, Welby said during an April 27 news conference that the council cannot discuss his decision because the ACC constitution precludes the group from dealing with doctrinal matters.

“I think I would put it very simply,” Welby replied to Konieczny. “We are deeply, profoundly divided over the question of human sexuality.”

“I find myself deeply torn,” he said, adding that he has publicly said numerous times that he is “personally conservative” on the issue of marriage equality.

“But I am equally convinced that it may be that I am wrong. I think that part of Anglican theology is always an assumption that we need to go on listening. Anglican theological method never closed things down finally apart from those things that are in the creeds,” Welby said. “Secondly, I do not believe this is a church-splitting issue.”

The archbishop said he is often accused of “preferring unity over truth,” an accusation he called nonsense because one cannot have “truthless unity” or “divided truth” in the church.

Welby said he believes that “the Bible, properly interpreted, is the final source for matters of faith and practice.” Nowhere in Paul’s two letters to what Welby called a divided and dysfunctional church in Corinth does Paul tell them he is going to abandon them and start over someplace else, Welby said.

Human sexuality is “an incredibly important issue,” Welby said, adding that he tries to remember this is about people. “They’re not a problem or an issue; they’re people, they’re human beings with deep profound feelings, with a desire, as every human being has, for affection, intimacy and love,” he said.

The job of the archbishop of Canterbury, and of every bishop, is to be a “focus of unity,” Welby said. “Therefore, I find myself caught in a really difficult position where we seek to bring everyone together, to look at these questions together, to see if we can learn to do so lovingly, to   disagree well, to learn to love one another profoundly and deeply, and to respect each other’s human dignity. And there’s a lot of way to go on that.”

Speaking specifically about the 2020 Lambeth Conference, Welby said he was faced “with a really difficult decision, because an awful lot of people would be excluded by the inclusion of other people, and they’re people in really bad places. I love them and I love the people who I’ve not felt able to invite. I’ve got no better answer than that.”

The archbishop said he hopes “we can get to the point that, God willing, we can love one another deeply” but “we’re a long way from that.”

“We can only do it if we decide together to do it. We can’t do it if any individual part of the church says, ‘I’ve got to win and everyone else has got to lose.’ It doesn’t work that way.”

Read more about it

ACC background is here.

Ongoing ENS coverage of the ACC is here.

The Anglican Communion News Service is also covering the meeting here.

Tweeting is happening with #ACC17HK.

The bulk of the meeting is taking place at the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong.

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


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ACC-17 confronts challenge of guarding Anglicans from sexual abuse

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 11:21am

Garth Blake, Anglican Communion Safe Church Commission chair and an ACC lay member from Australia, introduces the council May 1 to a conversation about preventing sexual abuse in the church. Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] Members of the Anglican Consultative Council’s 17th meeting heard a stark assessment May 1 of the prevalence of sexual abuse across the communion and the expanding effort to prevent it.

The work builds on similar discussions at the last two meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council, or ACC. In 2012, ACC-15 adopted the Safe Church Charter and urged all provinces to do the same. At its next meeting, in 2016, the council called for an Anglican Communion Safe Church Commission. It also adopted a “protocol for the disclosure of ministry suitability information between the churches of the Anglican Communion” to ensure that those found to have abused people do not attempt to exercise ministry in other provinces.

On May 1, Garth Blake, Anglican Communion Safe Church Commission chair and an ACC lay member from Australia, explained the course of the commission’s effort. Andrew Khoo of the Diocese of West Malaysia, Bishop of Matabeleland Cleophas Lunga and Andrea Watkins from the Church of England, all members of the commission that was established in 2017, each told the ACC that abuse of children and vulnerable adults occurs in their countries. And, they said, each culture has expectations and norms that work against disclosing abuse.

More than half the ACC members raised their hands when commission member Marilyn Redlich asked if they were aware of abusive situations in their province. She then invited them to discuss  at their tables the implications of abuse in the church.

Redlich acknowledged, “this is a most difficult discussion,” in part because of the possibility that some ACC members had been abusers, victims or witnesses to abuse at some point in their lives. She reminded the members that a team of chaplains was available to them, and ACC Vice Chair Margaret Swinson later said the same. “Do not try to work with this alone,” Redlich said.

After the members spent 20 minutes discussing the safe-church work at their tables, Province of Southern Africa Archbishop Thabo Makgoba told his colleagues, “this session was very rushed; we needed to reflect deeper.”

Church of Ireland Archbishop Richard Clarke tell his council colleagues May 1 that sexual abuse has “totally shredded” the larger church’s reputation. Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion News Service

During the ensuing group discussion, both Church of Ireland Archbishop Richard Clarke and Church of England Bishop of Chelmsford Steven Cottrell said sexual abuse scandals have harmed the Christian church’s reputation. Clarke described that reputation as “totally shredded,” and Cottrell said the scandals have driven people from the church and are also “preventing people from coming to Jesus Christ.”

Cottrell said hardest part of preventing abuse in the church is changing the culture. He added the church will only change when it realizes “this is a Gospel issue,” recalling Jesus’ teachings about children.

Clarke, though not disagreeing, wondered if children were being harmed in a psychological way by being taught to assume that “every adult is a predator.” Plus, he said, adults have learned to be extremely cautious around children out of concern about being accused of abuse. “There are no children that I would go near except my own grandchildren,” he said.

Before voting on Resolution C17.01 Swinson asked the members to pause and pray for people who keep the vulnerable safe, those who support victims of abuse and those who work with abusers.

The resolution puts the ACC on record as “recognizing the failures of the past” and saying it “is determined that every church in the Anglican Communion is a safe place for everyone, especially children, young people and vulnerable adults.” It approved guidelines “to enhance the safety of all persons – especially children, young people and vulnerable adults – within the provinces of the Anglican Communion.”

The resolution requests the communion’s provinces and extra-provincial churches adopt the charter and implement the protocol and guidelines. It also asks them to appoint a representative to coordinate with the commission, which will continue its work.

While most resolutions are being passed here by what is called “general assent,” in which members verbally acknowledge that they are comfortable with a resolution, Swinson called for a regular vote by show of hands because the issue was of “great public interest.” The measure passed unanimously.

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



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Anglican Consultative Council Digest: May 1

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 11:15am

Anglican Consultative Council youth member Basetsana Makena from South Africa pastes to a door in the meeting room her table’s thoughts about what hinders their family relationships. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] During the Anglican Consultative Council’s 17th meeting here, a number of things happen. In addition to Episcopal News Service’s other coverage, here are some additional highlights.

Learning about the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith effort

On May 1, the ACC suspended its work, and members had the option of attending a 90-minute “consultation” on Living in Love and Faith, the Church of England’s new effort to think theologically about diverse opinions on human identity and sexuality. Its subtitle is “Christian Teaching & Learning about Human Identity, Sexuality & Marriage.” Slightly less than half the council attended.

Eeva John, who called herself the “enabling officer” of the project, said it is “large, ambitious and complex.” The work was begun in 2017 after the Church of England’s General Synod rejected a report on human sexuality from the House of Bishops.

The project is not meant to declare the rightness or wrongness of same-sex marriage. Bishop of Coventry Christopher Cocksworth told the Church Times earlier this year that it is about “helping people to learn how to think, and how to better understand.” Cocksworth chairs the group that is coordinating about 40 scholars working in theology, history, biblical studies and science.

“It will rather be a pedagogical process that will help to put the church, and the bishops in particular, in the sort of position by which they can develop whatever answers to particular questions are needed,” Cocksworth told the Church Times.

At the same time, Equal, the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England, was recently launched to advocate a change in the official teaching and practice of the Church of England to allow same-sex marriage. When the United Kingdom decided to allow same-sex marriage it “put the church in a situation it’s never been in before where it has stepped aside from where the country stands legally,” John said.

She noted that the Church of England has considered the issues around human sexuality for about 30 years. However, she said, the church has decided it needs some “quite serious theological reflection” about not only human sexuality, identity and marriage but larger societal issues, such as commodification, consumerism, materialism, individualism and the “idolatry of choice in our society, being able to choose who we are, what we do, what we consume.”

It comes down, she said, to asking where the church fits into a changing culture and what “it mean to be a disciple of Jesus in England today.”

During a group discussion, the Ven. Wendy Patricia Hope Scott, ACC member from the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, said her province has “gone through this and come out on the other side” with “scads” of material, which she offered to John. And she prayed for the project after telling John that prayer “is the only thing that’s going to get you through this.”

ACC member from the Church of Scotland Alistair Dinnie said his province went through “a lot of pain, a lot of soul-searching,” but it has gotten a place where the vast majority of people, regardless of where they stand on the issues, are happy with the foundation on which the decision to allow same-sex marriage was made. Dinnie added that  “to my great sadness, we have not managed to bring everybody with us, because we have lost some of our community after the decision.”

During a pre-meeting news conference April 27, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby he hoped the project will “lead to significantly more careful listening to each other around the world.”

The attendance-optional session required the suspension of the council’s work because “it doesn’t fall within what the ACC can do,” according to Welby. He had contended earlier in the news conference that the council cannot discuss his decision to exclude the same-sex spouses of bishops invited to the 2020 Lambeth Conference because the ACC constitution precludes the group from dealing with doctrinal matters.

Considering the communion’s ecumenical relations

The Rev. John Gibaut, the communion’s director of unity, faith and order, briefs ACC-17 on his work May 1. Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion News Service

The council approved four resolutions May 1 related to the communion’s relationships with other Christian churches.

The members welcomed and commended the following for study:

ACC-17 members also approved a new Anglican Communion process for receiving ecumenical texts developed out of its dialogues with other Christian traditions.

The council heard from the Rev. John Gibaut, the communion’s director of unity, faith and order, who is leaving his post at the end of this meeting. His report touched on a variety of subjects, including the impact of ACC-16’s affirmation of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

The declaration, originally agreed to by the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999, has been described as resolving the doctrinal dispute at the heart of the Reformation; i.e., whether Christians are saved by their works or by their faith alone. It states that the churches who agree to it now share “a common understanding of our justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ.”

The declaration has since been adopted or affirmed by the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the World Methodist Council as well as the ACC.

Gibaut acknowledged that, despite the attention the declaration earned in some circles, the fact that five Western Christian churches “have been able to say something together on the Doctrine of Justification” begged the question: So what? The answer to that question has begun to be discerned.

“My analogy is we now have a common master key to unlock so many of those locked doors from the 16th century. How do we use it together; how do we walk together more closely?” he said. “The Doctrine of Justification is not just a theological thing. It’s a vision of what it means to be a human being.”

Convening at the Gold Coast

Most of the Anglican Consultative Council’s sessions will take place at the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong. The venue is said to be more economical than a hotel in the main part of the city. Photo: Gold Coast Hotel

Whenever the Anglican Consultative Council gathers for its nearly triennial meetings, it convenes in a different place around the Anglican Communion. In the last 10 years it has met in a hotel in Kingston, Jamaica; Anglican cathedrals in Auckland, New Zealand, and Lusaka, Zambia, and now in the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong.

Some have raised eyebrows at the locale near popular Golden Beach, the sparkling environs of the hotel building – a modernistic wavy array of crystals hangs from the ceiling of the meeting room – and the sumptuous food both in the hotel and at two restaurants in the city the council has visited thus far.

“You might, since you’ve arrived, have thought why are we in such a luxurious hotel with the wonderful food that we’ve had, the wonderful bedrooms, frankly the chandeliers in every space?” Anglican Communion Chief Operating Officer David White acknowledged on April 28 when he explained to the ACC members the choice of the Gold Coast. “You might be thinking this doesn’t feel as if this is something within the budget of the Anglican Consultative Council.”

White did not specify the cost of ACC-17, nor has that cost been disclosed elsewhere.

When the ACC last met in Hong Kong in 2002, it gathered at the YMCA building in the city center. However, since then, the price of land has skyrocketed in Hong Kong, and so has the cost of anything that sits on that land. Being so far away from central Hong Kong means the cost of the meeting is far less, White said.

The fact that the hotel owner is a Hong Kong Anglican who wanted to host the meeting was helpful as well, White added.

The ethos of hospitality and generous hosts have magnified the sense of luxury. White said that in all the planning meetings, he tried to tamp down the number of choices for each meal. “I have completely failed to reduce the quality with which we will be served,” he said. “With no sense of guilt, with no sense of regret, enjoy facilities and enjoy the company and enjoy the hospitality during which we are here.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was asked at an April 27 news conference about the environmental cost of the meeting that brings 99 ACC members from all over the world, plus staff to support them. He noted that the last ACC meeting changed the council’s constitution to allow groups such as the communion’s Standing Committee to meet electronically.

Yet, he said, sometimes face-to-face meetings need to happen “because you can just do and say things that you can’t do in any other way.”

ACC-16’ Resolution 16.33 also called for the communion office to make carbon-offset payments to the Anglican Alliance, the communion’s relief and development agency, “in their efforts address the world refugee crisis and human suffering as a result of conflict and drought.”

In another change addressed to the meeting’s environmental impact, ACC-17 is largely paperless. All reports and resolutions are posted on a password-protected “microsite,” and members who do not have internet-ready devices have been loaned iPads.

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

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Communion’s gender-justice is rooted in responses to violence, degradation and sin, ACC learns

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 3:05am

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] Ten years ago when the Rev. Terrie Robinson was asked to create a women’s desk at the Anglican Communion Office, she was not sure where to begin. An email she received an email containing photos of a murdered woman pointed the way.

The photos came from a bishop who had received them from elsewhere in the world.  “Lord, have mercy,” he wrote. Robinson, who is leaving her post at the communion’s director for women in church and society at the end of May, opened only three of them. They were enough to show her the sequence of the naked woman’s death and dismemberment at the hands of a group of men.

Robinson told members of Anglican Consultative Council April 30 that the photographs depicted “the abuse of power and about rendering another powerless; it was about sin” and “probably taken as some sort of trophy or to spread and circulate fear in a particular community.”

The Rev. Terrie Robinson

Robinson said she realized that the women’s desk “could become a point of contact for any woman or any man in the Anglican Communion who was doing something or wanted to do something about violence against women and girls.”

She found a number of such projects scattered across the communion which “needed to be connected somehow, to be properly noticed and affirmed by church leadership.”

To this day the work is under-resourced and usual relies on women to provide the energy and push the work forward,” she said.

Robinson’s written report [link to come] summarizes a number of examples of such work across the communion, such as “My Faith Says No!” in which the Diocese of Polynesia coordinated leaders from nine faith and cultural groups to produce a multi-media campaign advocating for an end to violence against women and girls.

Such work is a “huge building block of God’s reign on earth as it is in heaven,” she said.

“But for real and lasting change, we must tackle and transform the particular social norms, attitudes, scriptural misinterpretations and behaviors that sustain and exacerbate unjust power relationships between men and women, girls and boys, whether this is in our households or in our churches or embedded in the systems and structures that effect our lives,” she said.

Robinson said the focus of her efforts have shifted over time to work with Anglicans and ecumenical partners “to lift up the values of our Christian faith,” including the teaching of Christ and the stories of the faithful women who followed him “and were the first to tell the good news of his resurrection.” Those values “simply allow no room for ranking power and entitlement according to gender or remaining silent in the face of gender-based violence or devaluing the girl child or being complicit in the stigma that still surrounds victims and survivors of abuse and violence.”

Powerful presentation from Terrie of the ACO Women’s network. Needed study for students @queenscollegenl #ACC17HK pic.twitter.com/nZpFWGBHQV

— David Burrows (@Foxtrap_Burrows) April 30, 2019

One outcome of that shift in focus is a new set of study materials developed by academic theologians from six continents, led by Robinson, called “God’s Justice: Just Relationships between Women and Men, Girls and Boys,” which she asked the ACC to endorse so that they can be offered to the communion’s theological colleges, seminaries and training programs for both lay and ordained ministers. [link to come] Many of those schools and programs “haven’t yet touched on just power relations between women and men,” even though they are what she called an essential part of such formation and leading a Jesus-shaped life.

Anglican women and men need to work together, and with ecumenical and secular partners, to achieve gender justice, Robinson said. One model of this work, she said, is the international Side by Side faith movement for gender justice.

Robinson said she hoped that Anglicans will come to the point of always asking how their actions will affect relationships and “what is this saying about power and how power is used.” They should choose only those actions “that we could say or do in front of Christ crucified” and in front of a young woman made in the image of God, but degraded, rendered powerless and murdered by a group of men.

Her work, Robinson reflected, “it has all been about a simple Gospel truth that whenever the image of God is disfigured by violence or abuse or the misuse of power in any way, then it is a sin against the Holy Spirit.” God’s image should be celebrated as “a picture of being human, not of gender,” she said.

Her report and the study materials are due to be posted here soon.

Read more about it

ACC background is here.

Ongoing ENS coverage of the ACC is here.

The Anglican Communion News Service is also covering the meeting here.

Tweeting is happening with #ACC17HK.

The bulk of the meeting is taking place at the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong.

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

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Dinorah Padro nombrada gerente de La Iglesia Episcopal para servicios lingüísticos

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 2:33pm

Dinorah Padro fue nombrada gerente de La Iglesia Episcopal para servicios lingüísticos, miembro del personal del Obispo Presidente.

En su nuevo cargo, Padro reportará a Bernice David, gerente de operaciones de comunicaciones, y supervisará todos los aspectos de las actividades de traducción e interpretación requeridas por la Sociedad Misionera Doméstica y Extranjera (DFMS), incluidos los que necesita la Oficina del Obispo Presidente y la Oficina de la Convención General.

Antes empleada de forma independiente por la DFMS en 2004, Dinorah ha servido como intérprete para muchos eventos y reuniones de la Iglesia Episcopal. David observa: “Su nivel de profesionalismo y sus fuertes habilidades interpersonales serán una gran ventaja para la Oficina de Comunicaciones y para la DFMS”.

Padro comenzó sus responsabilidades el 29 de abril de 2019.

Conozca a Dinorah Padro
Además de su experiencia con La Iglesia Episcopal, Padro ha brindado servicios de interpretación a diversas compañías de mercadeo, así como a tribunales civiles y penales a nivel municipal, estatal y federal. Ha viajado extensamente debido al trabajo de interpretación en Estados Unidos e internacionalmente. Padro ha proporcionado servicios de traducción a un sindicato de trabajadores y en una variedad de documentos y materiales legales y de mercadeo. Ha trabajado como gerente de oficina y oficial de préstamos, ha servido como organizadora comunitaria para varias organizaciones sin fines de lucro y se ha ofrecido como voluntaria para ayudar a las familias que hablan español. Padro es miembro de la Asociación Americana de Traductores y del Comité de Acceso Lingüístico para los Tribunales del Estado de Utah. Junto con varias certificaciones profesionales, Padro también estudió psicología en la Universidad de Puerto Rico y en la Universidad Brigham Young de Utah.

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‘Intentional discipleship’ or ‘Jesus-shaped life’ is moving through the communion, ACC members say

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 10:40am

The Rev. John Kafwanka, Anglican Communion Office director of mission, leads off a session on intentional discipleship April 30 at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Hong Kong. Photo: Nigel Vigers/Anglican Communion News Service

[Episcopal News Service — Hong Kong] Anglicans across the communion are beginning to see how to live a Jesus-shaped life in the “season of intentional discipleship.”

That was the message here April 30 as Anglican Consultative Council members attending the council’s 17th meeting spent the morning discussing the modern version of what many said has been the foundation of Christianity since Jesus told the disciples to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, in 2016, the ACC accepted a report titled Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-Making: An Anglican Guide for Christian Life and Formation and called (via Resolution 16.01) for a “season of intentional discipleship” from then until ACC-18, which could run until approximately 2021.

Northern Argentina Bishop Nick Drayson said the term “Jesus-shaped life” is a more specific term than “intentional discipleship.” Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Northern Argentina Bishop Nick Drayson, a member of the committee guiding the initial work, told the council April 30 that the term “intentional discipleship” needs some unpacking. The group coined the phrase “Jesus-shaped life” because, he said, “it makes more sense.” He said the phrase refers to the lives of individuals and communities being shaped by Jesus “rather than the world or anything else molding us,” while also being examples to others.

The Rev. John Kafwanka, Anglican Communion Office director of mission, agreed. “We have talked a lot about Jesus but sadly many people have not seen Jesus in us,” he said.

The hope, Drayson said, is that the Anglican Communion will become known as a group of churches made up of disciples who lead others to discipleship in all aspects of their lives such as parenting and work and life in one’s culture. “It’s not just about church activities,” he said.

Anglicans in South Sudan need help learning to become Jesus’ disciples and not just churchgoers, the Rev. Bartholomew Bol Deng, clergy member from the Province of South Sudan, told his colleagues. Photo: Nigel Vigers/Anglican Communion News Service

The Rev. Bartholomew Bol Deng, clergy member from the Province of South Sudan, said that most of the dioceses in his province are “young” and filled with people who were recently evangelized. Many of them need to take the next step, he said, of learning “how to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, not just to come to church.”

His comment came during one of many short report-back moments in a morning that alternated between presentations about the work and frameworks for creating context-specific programs, and table discussions among the members.

Mark Senada, a youth member from Egypt, said he believes there is a “longing for seeing good Christians who say what they do and do what they say,” just as Jesus did.

Edmonton Bishop Jane Alexander told her colleagues that the idea of intentional discipleship has been “like a train gathering speed” in her diocese after a series of activities across the Canadian diocese encouraged people to begin talking about what living a Jesus-shaped life meant. “Sometimes we have to rediscover Jesus,” she said

There were two reasons for beginning the work, Alexander said. First, was increasing secularization. “In my context, the church can no longer assume that the story of Jesus Christ is known. Our evangelism effort can’t assume we’re reacquainting people with an old friend or a childhood memory, but it’s often a completely new introduction to God in Christ Jesus,” she said. “We’ve seen firsthand that as much as we might wish it, the prevailing culture doesn’t bring people through our doors.”

Yet, in asking those people who are in the church to go out and tell others about Jesus, “they often don’t know where to begin,” she said. “Therefore, our discipleship efforts [up until now] have engendered a sense of shame and guilt for not having been good enough doing it.”

Second was a litany of pain from generations of trauma experienced by the indigenous people of Alberta including nearly 2,000 murdered or missing girls and women. Some 12 percent of Albertans live in poverty, including one-fifth of all children and half of all indigenous children. There is a lack of clean drinking water in many of those communities. Food banks use has increased by 50 percent in the last 10 years. There is human trafficking, addiction, teen suicide and social isolation.

“People need to hear good news, but we had a problem. We needed a shared understanding of our own personal call to be disciples,” she said.

Rosalie Ballentine, The Episcopal Church’s lay member, said the idea of discipleship reminds her of the old question of “What would Jesus do?”

Not matter the term, she said, the intent is for Christians “to be the people who are out there fighting for those who are the least of them, those who can’t fight for themselves, fighting against injustice.” Ballentine said Christians cannot “just say that we’re going to be nice and kind to our neighbors or our colleagues, but [they have] to speak truth to power, to stand up for what is right because that’s what Jesus did and so that’s what we should do.”

The Rev. Canon Jerome Stanley Francis from the Province of Southern Africa echoed that notion, saying that “challenging the authorities of the day” is an important part of discipleship.

Leading a Jesus-shaped life, he said, means speaking that truth to “leaders who abused their power, their authority, their people” and “misuse the trust that people have in them.”

The committee is identifying examples of best practices in discipleship programs around the communion to share with other Anglicans and is also encouraging Anglicans to develop programs that make sense in their cultures. Those resources are being shared here.

Bishop of Chelmsford Stephen Cottrell, another member of the working group, cautioned that the Anglican Communion “tends to be the sort of church that produces pages of documents; it’s our way of doing things.” He suggested that “we have to get away from the idea that being a disciple is like doing a degree in God.”

Cottrell said it’s not that the working group wants the church to be anti-intellectual, but “I think we need to become a much better church at telling stories; that’s how Jesus taught. A story doesn’t close down meaning; it finds community, it finds dialogue.”

During a news conference on April 27, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said that “intentional discipleship” is an idea which has to work its way throughout the communion in much the same way the concept of the Five Marks of Mission took time to anchor itself in Anglicans’ consciousness.

“It’s a process of cultural change rather than a sudden declaration from on high,” he said.

Many times, Anglican communities are doing the work of intentional discipleship “without the title being attached,” said Margaret Swinson, ACC vice chair and member from the Church of England, at the news conference.

On May 2, ACC members plan to visits places in the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, the Anglican province in Hong Kong, where intentional discipleship is being put into practice.

Archbishop of Hong Kong and ACC Chair Paul Kwong said at the news conference that the province recently committed itself to the work through theological education, evangelism and social services.

Read more about it
ACC background is here.

Ongoing ENS coverage of the ACC is here.

The Anglican Communion News Service is also covering the meeting here.

Tweeting is happening with #ACC17HK.

The bulk of the meeting is taking place at the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong.

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

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Nebraska churches expand ministries to serve communities devastated by floods

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 10:16am

Volunteers prepare food for distribution April 27 at Church of the Holy Spirit in Bellevue, Nebraska, through the church’s mobile food pantry ministry. Photo: Church of the Holy Spirit

[Episcopal News Service] The catastrophic floods that hit Nebraska and neighboring states in March submerged whole neighborhoods underwater and turned some riverbend communities like Fremont into isolated outposts surrounded by water. The rising Platte and Elkhorn rivers blocked roads into and out of the Fremont area for days.

“Fremont was basically an island,” said the Rev. Sarah Miller, whose small congregation at St. James’ Episcopal Church has been on the front lines of relief and recovery efforts.

At the same time, the Missouri River swallowed parts of the Omaha suburb of Bellevue, Nebraska, particularly two rental home communities on the city’s south side. Hundreds of residents were displaced by the flooding. “That whole area was pretty well wiped clean,” the Rev. Tom Jones, rector of Church of the Holy Spirit, told Episcopal News Service.

This is looking South from Fremont on Highway 77. You can see the smoke from a trailer house that Fremont Fire and Fremont Rural are battling. pic.twitter.com/HS4xMuJXsS

— NSP Troop A (@NSP_TroopA) March 18, 2019

The floodwaters have since subsided, and more than 5,000 Nebraskans have applied for federal assistance, according to the state. The federal disaster area includes dozens of counties throughout Nebraska and Iowa. Some displaced residents returned to find their homes and possessions destroyed by the floods, which were caused by an unusually snowy and wet winter.

The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska,  while partnering with Episcopal Relief & Development, has rallied its 52 congregations behind the flood victims and, in places like Fremont and Bellevue, provided direct support to the residents most effected by the disaster and its aftermath.

St. James’ began by filling tote bags with three days’ worth of toiletries and supplies for flood victims, a variation on its ministry of assembling similar donations for domestic violence victims. On April 11, the congregation resumed its regular community meals, and some residents displaced by the floods were among the 25 to 30 people who attended, Miller told ENS.

St. James’ Episcopal Church in Fremont, Nebraska, filled tote bags with supplies for flood victims in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Photo: St. James’ Episcopal Church

“We know that this can be an overwhelming time for people,” said Miller, the priest-in-charge at St. James’. Sunday services at the church typically draw about 25 worshipers.

Her disaster response includes providing pastoral care for struggling neighbors as they cope with their flood losses, and she picks up on their cues when deciding how St. James’ will follow up next. “We’re really trying to listen to folks to figure out what’s needed and how we can possibly respond.”

Some church members are dealing with emotional loss because the floods destroyed personal treasures, like family photos. Since others in the congregation have photos taken with the flood victims at past events, they have been encouraged to share the images, a step toward rebuilding lost photo albums.

The congregation at St. James’ also is considering a “laundry love” ministry to serve the increased number of neighbors who have been forced to use laundromats because their homes and appliances were damaged.

No Episcopal church facilities were seriously damaged by the flooding in Nebraska, according to the Diocese of Nebraska, though two families from Jones’ congregation in Bellevue were among those who were left homeless. At one point, the roofs of their mobile homes were barely visible above the rising Missouri River, Jones said. More than a month later, they have found permanent housing and are “very optimistic” about the future.

“The community really, really came together to provide all kinds of support for the people who were impacted,” said Jones, whose average Sunday attendance is about 100. He mentioned another parishioner who offered temporary shelter to a family whose basement had been flooded, and there have been many other examples of neighbors helping neighbors. “They really came together and met those immediate needs.”

His congregation also is among those getting a boost from the diocese’s work with Episcopal Relief & Development, which is providing logistical support in the relief and recovery phases. Episcopal Relief’s expertise comes from years of experience responding when natural disasters strike around the country, and this month it sent two representatives to Nebraska and Iowa “to help diocesan leaders conduct assessments of the damage caused by the flooding and to identify both immediate and long-term needs of communities,” the agency said in an online statement.

Episcopal Relief & Development is helping the dioceses pay for emergency supplies for residents, such as food, gas and clothing, and Church of the Holy Spirit will use a $2,000 grant from the agency paired with $1,000 from the Diocese of Nebraska to bolster the congregation’s food distribution ministry, which is several years old.

The Bellevue church, through its partnership with the Food Bank for the Heartland, had scheduled events every two months to distribute thousands of pounds of food from the Omaha-based food bank, typically serving 100 to 120 families. It now can increase the frequency of its food distribution to every month, filling a gap left by two other Bellevue churches that had decided before the flooding to stop holding distribution events.

The most recent distribution was April 27, and although the number of families hadn’t increased in the wake of the floods, Jones said he saw some new faces. He thinks the need will increase as other flood relief efforts phase out.

Nebraska Bishop Scott Barker applauded Episcopal Relief & Development for its support, and he praised the work of individual congregations and Episcopalians around his diocese.

“I’m proud of our ability to rally to serve,” he said in an interview with ENS. “It’s a difficult bit of work, because the damage is spread over such a giant geographical area but principally in isolated pockets. … We’re trying to be really prayerful and discerning about a long-term response.”

One long-term question is whether small communities in Nebraska will survive if most of the towns’ residents are told their homes are too badly damaged to return to them. Though survival isn’t in doubt for Fremont, a city of about 26,000 people northwest of Omaha, Miller said the smaller towns on Fremont’s outskirts face an uncertain future. If those residents choose to take the federal assistance and relocate elsewhere, “that place just basically disappears,” she said.

For those who stay to rebuild and repair, recovery won’t happen overnight.

“It’s setting in how long this is going to take,” Miller said. “I think people are feeling frustrated navigating the system, trying to figure out how the inspections work, how they get back into their homes, how to work with FEMA.”

But for those who didn’t lose everything, they are approaching a difficult future while still feeling “grateful and lucky,” she said. “There’s a sense from a lot of people that it could have been worse.”

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

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El EJE19 reunirá a jóvenes episcopales de diócesis de habla hispana en Panamá

Mon, 04/29/2019 - 10:43pm

[Episcopal News Service] La Iglesia Episcopal se prepara para un evento de dos días en América Latina para adolescentes y jóvenes adultos que son líderes en sus comunidades religiosas episcopales, con una orientación deliberada hacia los jóvenes de la IX Provincia de la Iglesia.

El Evento de Jóvenes Episcopales, o EJE, tendrá lugar en julio en la Ciudad de Panamá, conforme al modelo de las reuniones del popular Evento de la Juventud Episcopal, que se celebra en diferentes lugares de la Iglesia Episcopal cada tres años. Si bien las reuniones trienales del EYE suelen atraer a más de 1.000 participantes, el EJE inaugural se prepara a recibir a unas 250 personas, incluidos los organizadores, los voluntarios y las delegaciones de cada una de las siete diócesis de la IX Provincia, así como líderes de la juventud anglicana de varios otros países latinoamericanos.

“Esto ha sido un sueño durante muchos años”, le dijo a Episcopal News Service Glenda McQueen, funcionaria encargada de Asociaciones Globales para América Latina y el Caribe. A los jóvenes de la IX Provincia con frecuencia les resulta difícil viajar a Estados Unidos para asistir al EYE, donde el inglés es el idioma principal, explicó McQueen, que está radicada en Panamá.

El EJE “les dará una oportunidad a los jóvenes y a los jóvenes adultos de esta zona de estar presentes y podrán hablar en español y comunicarse y cantar en español, y alabar a Dios en español, que es su lengua”, dijo ella.

Varios departamentos de la Iglesia Episcopal colaboran en el proyecto, entre ellos Formación de Fe, Ministerios Étnicos y Asociaciones Globales, y están trabajando estrechamente con el Equipo de Planificación del EJE19 de la IX Provincia.

“Estamos adiestrando a la gente a hacer esto, de manera que en el futuro —y esperamos que sea pronto— el próximo evento estará dirigido por la IX Provincia”, dijo el Rdo. Anthony Guillén a ENS en una entrevista. Guillén es el director de Ministerios Étnicos y el misionero para el Ministerio Latino/Hispano de la Iglesia Episcopal.

La IX Provincia de la Iglesia Episcopal comprende las diócesis del territorio estadounidense de Puerto Rico y la República Dominicana en el Caribe, y los países de Centro y Sudamérica Colombia, Honduras, Venezuela y Ecuador, este último dividido en las diócesis de Ecuador Central y Ecuador Litoral. La Diócesis de Cuba, luego de ser  recibida de vuelta en la Iglesia Episcopal en la Convención General de 2018, también ha sido invitada a enviar una delegación al EJE19, aunque Cuba se ha unido a la II Provincia, no a la IX.

La mayoría de los episcopales en estas diócesis y sus congregaciones hablan español como su idioma principal, lo cual dijo Guillén que es una razón de que la IX Provincia haya sido históricamente ignorada por la Iglesia Episcopal que es fundamentalmente anglófona.

“Nunca realmente pensé cómo ser receptivo a la IX Provincia”, dijo Guillén, pero en años recientes los líderes episcopales reavivaron la esperanza de salvar esa barrera geográfica, cultural y lingüística mediante eventos como el EJE19. El Consejo Ejecutivo también ha prometido celebrar una reunión en cada una de las nueve provincias de la Iglesia durante este trienio, incluida una de las diócesis de la IX Provincia. “Hay un intento de ir y hacer cosas en la IX Provincia”, dijo Guillén.

La planificación para el EJE19 ha estado en marcha durante varios años y, en 2018, la Convención General aprobó $350.000 para el evento. Se celebrará en Ciudad del Saber, una antigua base militar de EE.UU. en Ciudad de Panamá que se ha convertido en un centro empresarial y de conferencias con teatros, auditorios, aulas y un albergue estilo dormitorio para los participantes del EJE19. El obispo primado Michael Curry está previsto que asista.

“El EJE19 será una increíble reunión de jóvenes dispuestos a aprender acerca del Movimiento de Jesús y a reclamar su lugar en él”, dijo Curry en un comunicado de prensa acerca del evento.

Aunque Panamá es parte de la Iglesia Anglicana de la Región Central de América, comúnmente conocida como IARCA, y no es parte de la Iglesia Episcopal, el equipo de planificación de la IX Provincia para el EJE19 escogió este país centroamericano como la ubicación ideal debido a su proximidad con las diócesis episcopales de la región y los económicos costos de viaje.

Todavía no se ha finalizado un programa detallado, pero Wendy Karr Johnson, encargada de Formación de Fe de la Iglesia Episcopal, dijo que el evento de dos días de duración incluirá una serie de actividades cultuales, talleres y excursiones, semejantes a los que se ofrecen en el EYE.

El obispo de Panamá, Julio Murray, ha sido generoso en apoyar la planificación del EJE en su diócesis, dijo Johnson. Se espera que él les hable a los participantes  acerca del contexto histórico y espiritual de la ciudad anfitriona: “¿Por qué este lugar nos habla, y qué tiene que enseñarnos?”, afirmó Johnson.

El EJE19 está concebido para jóvenes de entre 16 y 26 años de edad. A las diócesis episcopales que participan se les invitó a enviar delegaciones de hasta 15 personas, hasta 13 jóvenes acompañados por dos adultos que los cuiden.

– David Paulsen es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Pueden dirigirse a él a dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.   Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

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