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Mauritius bishop cautions against ethnic and religious census

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 2:11pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Ian Ernest of Mauritius has warned that a national census on the population’s ethnic and religious background “would only aggravate those divides that already exist.” The Creole ethnic group makes up around a quarter of the island-nation’s population. This group, descended mainly from slaves, are said to face discrimination in the areas of education, jobs and housing. The majority Indo-Mauritian population hold most of the top political posts in the country.

Read the full article here.

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Cathleen Chittenden Bascom elected 10th bishop of the Diocese of Kansas

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 12:36pm

The Rev. Cathleen Chittenden Bascom, from the Diocese of Iowa, was elected Oct.19 as the 10th bishop to lead the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas.

[Diocese of Kansas] The Rev. Cathleen Chittenden Bascom, from the Diocese of Iowa, was elected Oct.19 as the 10th bishop to lead the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas. She was elected on the second ballot during an election that took place in the worship space of Grace Cathedral in Topeka, receiving 64 votes from lay delegates and 56 votes from clergy.

Bascom is the first woman to be elected bishop since the diocese was formed in 1859.  This also marked the first time in the history of the Episcopal Church that a bishop heading a diocese was elected from a slate of candidates who all were women.

Others on the ballot were the Rev. Martha N. Macgill of the Diocese of Maryland, and the Rev. Helen-Svoboda-Barber, from the Diocese of North Carolina.

The Very Rev. Foster Mays, president of the governing body that has overseen the diocese in the interim period between bishops, said, “It delights me that Cathleen Bascom will be our next bishop. While this election was historic, at its core lay delegates and clergy were selecting the person who will lead this diocese for the next decade or more. I believe Mother Bascom’s many gifts and years of experience will serve this diocese well.

“I know that clergy and lay leaders from all our congregations are looking forward to the opportunity to participate in ministry with her, to share together the good news of Jesus and to serve the world in the name of our Lord. I’m very excited for the future of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas under her leadership.”

Bascom has been serving since the fall of 2014 as Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Waldorf University in Forest City, Iowa. She previously had been dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Des Moines, Iowa, as well as rector of St. Stephen’s in Newton, Iowa.

She served for eight years in the Diocese of Kansas from 1993 to 2001, leading ministry efforts at Kansas State University in Manhattan.

She is the third priest to have served within the Diocese of Kansas to be elected bishop. The first was Frank Millspaugh, who was dean of Grace Cathedral, Topeka, when he was elected bishop in 1895. The second was Richard Grein, who was rector of St. Michael and all Angels in Mission when he was elected in 1981.

She also is the second priest to become Kansas’ bishop while serving in the Diocese of Iowa. The first was Thomas Vail, the diocese’s first bishop, who was rector of Trinity Church in Muscatine, Iowa, when he was elected bishop in 1864.

Bascom and her husband Tim have two sons – Conrad, age 25, and Luke, age 21.

The service of ordination and consecration by which Bascom becomes a bishop and assumes responsibility for the pastoral and administrative work of the diocese, will take place on Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Grace Cathedral, Topeka. The chief consecrator will be Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas, based in Topeka, includes 44 churches across the eastern 40 percent of the state. It includes more than 10,000 baptized members with more than 70 active priests and deacons, of whom 43 percent are women.

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Executive Council passes budget, grants diocesan waivers, praises work of Episcopal Migration Ministries

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 11:51am

Members of Executive Council join hands and sing at the conclusion of a racial reconciliation training Oct. 17 in Chaska, Minnesota. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Chaska, Minnesota] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, in its first meeting since the 79th General Convention, spent four days this week focused primarily on orientation, training, leadership appointments and relationship-building at a conference center in suburban Minneapolis.

This meeting was light on legislative business, but Executive Council, the church’s governing body during the three years between General Convention meetings, concluded the week by approving a handful of resolutions on financial matters, including the 2019 church budget, the House of Deputies president’s salary and diocesan assessment waivers for six dioceses.

Members of Executive Council also received briefings from church officers and staff members during the week, including a bleak assessment of the future of the church’s refugee resettlement work from the Rev. Charles Robertson, the presiding bishop’s canon for mission beyond the church.

Episcopal Migration Ministries, one of nine agencies with federal contracts to resettle refugees in the United States, expects to learn in the coming weeks if its contract will be renewed, at a time when the Trump administration has dramatically reduced the number of refugees being resettled. The odds are not in Episcopal Migration Ministries’ favor, Robertson told Executive Council’s Ministry Beyond the Episcopal Church Committee.

“If we were going to bet on it, we’d bet we’re not going to make the cut,” Robertson said. He predicted only two of the nine would receive contracts. Though unlikely, he said it is still possible Episcopal Migration Ministries will be one of the two.

Executive Council kicked off its meeting on Oct. 15 at the Oak Creek Hotel & Convention Center, nestled in tranquil lake-side woods in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities. The Episcopal Church put its beliefs into action in July through more than 500 resolutions at General Convention in Austin, Texas, and it is the council’s role to begin aligning church operations with those priorities and mandates.

Much of that work starts with the church budget. General Convention adopted a $133.8 million 2019-2021 budget that reflects the presiding bishop’s priorities of evangelism, racial reconciliation and justice, and creation care. “Council’s job is to take that three-year budget and make it into three one-year budgets,” the Rev. Mally Lloyd of the Diocese of Massachusetts told Executive Council during her Finance Committee report on Oct. 18.

Council approved a 2019 budget, as well as compensation for the second half of 2018 for the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, the House of Deputies president, based on a plan endorsed by General Convention. The Executive Council resolution approved $210,000 a year for the position of House of Deputies president.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings speaks on Oct. 18, the final day of the four-day meeting of Executive Council in Chaska, Minnesota. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The issue of diocesan assessments generated extended discussion among Executive Council members. Under the current triennial budget, each diocese is expected to contribute 15 percent to churchwide operations, a reduction from past budgets, though some dioceses historically have fallen short of even that lower target.

Dioceses that fail to pay their assessments may be excluded from churchwide grant programs, though they also may apply for waivers allowing them to forego some or all of the required amounts.

“The only criteria for receiving a waiver is financial hardship,” Lloyd said, and she emphasized the process is not intended to be punitive. The committee in charge of following up with dioceses about their assessments emphasizes listening and conversation and welcomes “baby steps” toward full financial participation.

The six dioceses granted waivers by Executive Council were Arizona, Haiti, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and West Texas.

“Arizona has a big burden of past due assessments,” Lloyd said, so the church has agreed to forgive those past obligations over three years if it keeps up with its current payments.

Haiti, in recognition of the country’s poverty, has an agreement with the church outside of the assessment process to pay at least $5,000 a year, with the hope of increasing that to $11,000 by the end of the triennium. Mississippi, which Lloyd says is still dealing with the financial effect of Hurricane Katrina, aims to contribute 13 percent by the end of the triennium. Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands were granted full waivers because they are recovering from last year’s Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

West Texas, however, is a special case that split the voting members of Executive Council. The diocese’s past participation – just six percent last year – has fallen well short of the church’s target, and though the diocese was hit last year by Hurricane Harvey, financial hardship is not a primary factor.

Jennings asked why the church should grant the Diocese of West Texas a waiver if it was able to pay multiple bishops and maintain a sizable endowment fund. Other Executive Council members raised similar concerns and suggested amending the resolution to eliminate the waiver for West Texas.

North Carolina Bishop Suffragan Anne Hodges-Copple spoke in favor of the waiver, saying it was about diplomacy and “strengthening the hand of some good bishops” in West Texas who have been encouraging “recalcitrant” Episcopalians to see themselves part of something larger than what is in their own backyards.

“I love bringing them into the fold more strongly,” Hodges-Copple said.

The vote to drop West Texas’ waiver failed, 14-18, and Executive Council proceeded to approve all six waivers.

Executive Council has 40 voting members, including the presiding bishop and House of Deputies president, as well as additional nonvoting members, such as the Episcopal Church’s finance director and chief operating officer.

Twenty of the voting members – four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 laypeople – are elected by General Convention to six-year terms, with half of those members elected every three years. The other 18 are elected to six-year terms by the Episcopal Church’s nine provinces, with each province sending one ordained member and a lay member.

One of Executive Council’s first actions this week was to reduce its number of committees from five to four. The new committees are Finance, Government & Operations; Ministry Within the Episcopal Church; and Ministry Beyond the Episcopal Church. And one of the final actions of the week was to elect three at-large members to the Executive Committee: Julia Harris of the Diocese of Oklahoma, Rose Sconiers of the Diocese of Western New York and Utah Bishop Scott Hayashi.

As business concluded Oct. 18, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry playfully described the week as “the karaoke meeting of the Executive Council,” a nod to one particularly memorable extracurricular activity from the meeting’s opening night. Breaking the ice was a core feature of this meeting, as Executive Council members found their bearings and got to know each other.

The daily sessions also tackled serious subjects, such the ethical questions raised by the role-playing scenarios that Russell Randle, a senior member from the Diocese of Virginia, included in his training on Oct. 17. That training was followed by a session on racial reconciliation led by the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care.

After a presentation by Spellers on the Episcopal Church’s Becoming Beloved Community framework, Executive Council broke into groups to share their experiences and think about how they are called to work for racial healing. The training concluded with all the members joining hands and singing.

During a meeting of the Government & Operations committee, members offered their feedback on the racial reconciliation training.

“At our table, it got a little raw,” Pauline Getz, a member from the Diocese of San Diego, said. “Some of our conversation was hitting some rather deep chords.”

Spellers told the committee that the church has moved away from a past emphasis on “anti-racism” in favor of the language of racial healing, encouraging Episcopalians to interact graciously with each other without demonize people for struggling with their own racism. Such a Christian approach can be applied beyond the work of racial reconciliation.

“If we do this work the way we as a church have said we want to, it will change how we relate to everything,” Spellers said. “This is about us living in the Jesus way.”

Later that afternoon, Robertson gave a sobering outlook on Episcopal Migration Ministries’ future to the committee on Ministry Beyond the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Charles Robertson, the presiding bishop’s canon for mission beyond the church, speaks Oct. 17 to the committee on Ministry Beyond the Episcopal Church. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

“We are prepared for the worst,” Robertson said – the worst being the end of Episcopal Migration Ministries contract to continue the resettlement work it has done for the federal government since the 1980s.

The U.S. Department of State announced Sept. 17 that it would lower the ceiling to just 30,000 refugees for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, down from a ceiling of 85,000 just two years ago. And that 30,000 is just the upper limit, Robertson stressed. The actual number of refugees to be welcomed into the United States likely will be much lower.

Episcopal Migration Ministries once oversaw 31 resettlement affiliates in 26 dioceses, but that number has dwindled to 14 affiliates in 12 dioceses. With even fewer refugees to resettle, the federal government isn’t expected to keep all nine of its contracted agencies, Robertson said, and Episcopal Migration Ministries, though well equipped to do that work, is one of the smaller of the nine.

Even in the worst-case scenario, however, Episcopal Migration Ministries will remain an important part of the Episcopal Church’s outreach efforts. If the resettlement work ends, the agency may find other ways to support refugees and, possibly, other immigrants, Robertson said. He estimated it would take about a year to fully realize that new vision for the agency.

In the meantime, he suggested the Executive Council recognize the exemplary work of the agency’s employees. Council passed a resolution Oct. 18 commending Episcopal Migration Ministries, “whose dedicated staff, during a season of flux and uncertainty, have worked tirelessly and in a sacrificial manner to support refugees in many parts of the world who seek resettlement in the United States.”

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

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Freedom of religion and expression urged as Ireland prepares for blasphemy referendum

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 11:43am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Voters in Ireland will take part in a referendum on Oct. 26 to decide whether to abolish the country’s blasphemy laws. The Republic of Ireland’s constitution requires blasphemy – applicable only to Christianity – to be outlawed. But in 1999 its common-law offense was ruled to be incompatible with the constitution’s requirement for religious equality. A new statutory offense protecting any religion against “publication or utterance of blasphemous matter” was introduced in 2006; but now the public will decide whether to abolish the blasphemy law completely.

Read the full article here.

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Role of youth highlighted at International Anglican Family Network consultation

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 11:24am

[Anglican Communion News Service] A delegation of young adults from the Diocese of Lusaka helped a regional consultation on families under pressure to “revisit our thinking about the place of young people in our families, communities and churches.” Each of the 15 dioceses in the Church of the Province of Central Africa sent one male and one female participant to the six-day consultation, which was organized by the International Anglican Family Network. They were joined on one day by 26 young people from the Diocese of Lusaka, who challenged them to think about the tensions between “digitally native” young people and elderly BBCs – people “Born Before Computers.”

Read the full article.

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Good Friday Offering raises record total to support Middle East ministries

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 3:50pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry hands a toddler back to her mother while visiting a session for mothers and their young children at Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in March. Jerusalem Archbishop Suheil Dawani is at right. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church’s Good Friday Offering, an annual collection to support ministries in the Middle East, hit a fundraising milestone in 2017, topping $400,000 for the first time.

The offering has been a “remarkable success” in recent years, said the Rev. Robert Edmunds, the church’s Middle East partnership officer. More than 1,400 congregations, including those in overseas dioceses of the Episcopal Church, participated on Good Friday 2017. Contributions totaled $414,310 according to figures finalized recently after a church audit.

The Good Friday Offering supports a variety of programs in the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, such as conferences and summer camps for children in the Diocese of Jerusalem, women’s empowerment programs, an eye clinic and other medical ministries.

“This extraordinary outpouring of generosity allows for essential funding of humanitarian aid in hospitals like the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza and the Ras Morbat Eye Clinic in Yemen, in addition to other medical ministries, schools and programs for women and youth,” Edmunds said. “The Good Friday Offering continues a strong tradition of prayer, advocacy and meaningful financial support for valuable ministry among our sisters and brothers throughout the Middle East.”

The Good Friday Offering, an initiative of the presiding bishop’s office, dates to 1922, when it was created in the aftermath of World War I in an attempt to foster relationships with Christians in the Middle East by supporting relief work and ecumenical partnerships. Each year, the Episcopal Church provides the proceeds to dioceses in the region to distribute to their locally led ministries.

The amount collected by all Episcopal congregations on Good Friday had fallen to $266,000 in 2013, but it topped $350,000 in each of the three following years before setting a record in 2017.

“Through the years many Episcopalians have found the Good Friday Offering to be an effective way to express their support for the ministries of the four dioceses of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East,” the Episcopal Church says in an online summary.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry embarked on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land leading up to Good Friday 2018. Among the stops on Curry’s Holy Week trip was the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, whose medical ministry in Gaza City receives money from the Good Friday Offering.

“The number of Christians in Gaza are decreasing dramatically, but the witness to the way of Jesus is as strong as ever because at Al Ahli Arab Hospital healing happens – Muslim, Christian, anyone who needs it, healing happens,” Curry told Episcopal News Service after visiting the hospital. “And that is the way of Jesus. That is what love looks like. That is what the sacrifice on the cross was about.”

The total collected from the 2018 Good Friday Offering has not yet been released.

The Episcopal Church’s United Thank Offering grant program and Episcopal Relief & Development also have provided advocacy, awareness and financial support through the years for the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention regularly considers resolutions related to Middle East issues. Resolutions that take positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict typically generate the most debate, though the church has backed other measures as well, affirming financial support for peacemaking efforts and humanitarian ministries. A 2012 resolution specifically singled out the Al Ahli Hospital for support. And in July, the 79th General Convention passed a resolution in response to a humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

The resolution on Yemen concluded by asserting “that throughout the Middle East region access to water and sustainable agriculture are serious problems and a primary source of conflict,” and it pledged to undertake “relief and long-term economic development projects in areas such as education, job creation and health care, as well as sustainable solutions for the lack of access to water.”

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

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Cuerpo de Servicio de Adultos Jóvenes de la Iglesia Episcopal: se aceptan solicitudes para plazas vacantes para el ciclo 2019-2020

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 2:28pm

[18 de octubre de 2018] El Cuerpo de Adultos Jóvenes de la Iglesia Episcopal (YASC, por sus siglas en inglés) ofrece atractivas oportunidades para servir, aprender y compartir, por un año, viviendo y trabajando con comunidades alrededor del mundo.

“Desde trabajando como capellanes invitados en barcos como parte de la Misión para Marinos en Hong Kong y Nueva Zelanda, hasta enseñando en escuelas de primaria y secundaria dirigidas por la Iglesia en Costa Rica y Tanzania, o trabajando en apoyo de la transformación a un desarrollo sostenible en las Filipinas, los voluntarios de YASC construyen relaciones con las comunidades de la Comunión Anglicana, desarrollando perspectivas amplias sobre la vida y la fe que permanecerán con ellos toda su vida” dijo Elizabeth Boe, funcionaria encargada del Personal de Misión de la Iglesia Episcopal. “Vemos este ministerio como una manera de apoyar a los adultos jóvenes en su desarrollo del liderazgo mientras exploran su fe de maneras nuevas y se interrelacionan con personas con puntos de vista diferentes, ofreciendo sus dones y destrezas en contextos nuevos”.

Las solicitudes están abiertas, a los episcopales entre los 21 y 30 años de edad, para las plazas durante el período 2019-2020 en el Cuerpo de Servicio de Adultos Jóvenes, que es el programa misionero internacional de la Iglesia Episcopal. Los voluntarios de YASC en la actualidad sirven en todos los rincones del mundo donde está la Comunión Anglicana y trabajan junto a sus socios en las áreas de administración, agricultura, comunicación, desarrollo y educación. Estos voluntarios sirven en ministerios en Costa Rica, Inglaterra, Hong Kong, Nueva Zelanda, las Filipinas, Puerto Rico y Tanzania.

Entre las posibles asignaciones para el período 2019-2020 están (pero no se limitan a) Brasil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Inglaterra, Honduras, Panamá, las Filipinas, Sudáfrica, Taiwán y Tanzania.

La solicitud para el ciclo 2019-2020, junto con información adicional e instrucciones, está disponible aquí.

Jared Grant, quien fue voluntario de YASC, describe su experiencia en el programa como “una experiencia transformadora en todos los sentidos. Yo llegué a este programa con el punto de vista pesimista de que el ‘trabajo de misión’ era algo anticuado, mal informado que no estaba al corriente con la Iglesia que yo conocía y quería. YASC me dio la oportunidad de trabajar con ministerios y también desarrollar ministerios que respetan la humanidad en todos nosotros, ministerios que protegen la santidad de la creación, ministerios que buscan alcanzar esa loca idea de la paz en un mundo que parece decidido a ir en sentido contrario. Sin embargo, resultó ser que mi idea del ‘trabajo misionero’ era lo que estaba obsoleto y no el trabajo misionero en sí. Sigo estando orgulloso de llamarme un misionero de la Iglesia”. A partir de su servicio en YASC en Lesoto y en Italia, Grant decidió explorar la educación teológica en el Seminario Teológico de Virginia, donde ahora estudia.

La fecha límite para enviar solicitudes es el viernes 11 de enero de 2019.

El Rdo. David Copley, director de Alianzas Globales y Personal de Misión dijo que “YASC construye sobre la base de la fe, el conocimiento, la educación y la experiencia que los adultos jóvenes traen consigo cuando sirven y les ofrece la oportunidad de enfrentar retos y ser transformados al involucrarse plenamente en otro lugar del mundo de Dios. El servicio misionero es ante todo un acto de fe y una manera de actuar como Iglesia”.

Para obtener más información comuníquese con Elizabeth Boe.

Hay información adicional sobre YASC, vídeos y blogs en episcopalchurch.org/yasc.

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Episcopalians advocate for Great Lakes water quality

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 6:54pm

In this July 19, 2002, file photo, the Mackinac Bridge is shown from Mackinaw City, Michigan. Photo: Carlos Osorio/AP

[Episcopal News Service] Two years ago during a Sunday service at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Petoskey, Michigan, Gary Street heard six words in Eucharistic Prayer C in the Book of Common Prayer and things came together for him: “…this fragile Earth, our island home.”

About a year and a half earlier, Street, a church member and a retired chemical engineer, began advocating for the shutdown of a Canadian-owned oil and gas pipeline that originates on the southwestern end of Lake Superior, the largest of the lakes, on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.  From there, it cuts across Upper Michigan — in sections tracing Lake Michigan’s shoreline along U.S. 2 — through the Mackinac Straits, into Lower Michigan before it terminates in Canada.

“All of a sudden it just hit me; this is what we are talking about,” said Street during an Oct. 16 interview with Episcopal News Service. After the service, Street spoke to his priest and said, “I’d like to pursue this.”

Beginning in 2016 with the Diocese of Northern Michigan, all four Michigan dioceses passed the same resolution calling on the governor and the state to dismantle Enbridge Line 5.

“… the history of pipeline leaks shows that there is a significant risk of severe damage and economic loss to government entities, individuals, businesses, and the environment,” the resolution states.

Together, Street and Northern Michigan Bishop Rayford Ray took the lead.

“I got to know Rayford quite well. He really understands the issue and is more supportive than almost anyone I’ve met in the religious community,” said Street. “Part of it is that that pipeline goes all the way through the Upper Peninsula. It starts over at Wakefield and it goes to St. Ignace, and, of course, crosses the state. So, it’s almost the entire part of the southern part of the Upper Peninsula that is exposed to the rupture of the pipeline.”

In the 60-mile stretch from Naubinway to St. Ignace, the pipeline hugs the shoreline; through that area wetlands and streams feed into Lake Michigan.

“If there’s a rupture there, it would certainly get into northern Lake Michigan. The straits are kind of an icon, something everyone can relate to; we don’t want to ruin the Straits,” said Street. There are, however, other high-risk areas where a rupture could affect at least three of the five Great Lakes. “It crosses rivers in the western U.S. that flow into Lake Superior. It certainly can get into Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.”

On Oct. 3 Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian oil company Enbridge announced plans to replace a nearly 4-mile section of the 65-year-old, 645-mile pipeline that transports 540,000 barrels of light crude oil and natural gas a day from Superior, Wisconsin, across Upper Michigan, through the Mackinac Straits, south and east across Lower Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario, where the oil and gas are refined into propane.

The governor’s and Enbridge’s agreement would create a “utility corridor,” creating a new Line 5 pipeline drilled 100 feet into bedrock below the lake bed, at an estimated cost between $350 and $500 million over seven to 10 years. The controversy involves the 3.5 to 4 miles of pipeline that carries the oil and gas through the straits’ narrow waterways. The largest strait connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, the third and second largest of the five Great Lakes.

Pipeline opponents argue that a spill poses too great an environmental and economic risk to the entire Great Lakes ecosystem. The five Great Lakes – Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Superior and Erie – form the largest freshwater system on the planet. The lakes hold close to one-fifth of the Earth’s surface freshwater; the lakes’ watershed drains 200,000 square miles of land, ranging from agricultural to forested to cities and suburbs. They have a combined shoreline of more than 10,000 miles, touching eight states and Ontario, a Canadian province.

The majority of Michigan’s 9.9 million people live below Muskegon on the western and Midland on the eastern side of the state. Remote and rural, Upper Michigan’s economy has been dependent on resource extraction, outdoor recreation and tourism; it has a population of about 300,000 people and has steadily lost population over the last decade. Pipeline supporters and Enbridge argue the pipeline helps meet rural residents’ propane heating needs.

In places like Rapid River, a town of some 4,100 people about 15 miles north of Escanaba on U.S. Highway 41, where a processing facility converts Line 5 natural gas into propane, pipeline opponents make a delicate argument for its decommissioning because some residents work at the facility and love their employer.

“Line 5 has inflamed our community,” said Deb Nedeau, project specialist for the Great Lakes Peace Center and a member of the Northern Michigan diocese’s Peace, Justice and Creation Care Committee.

Nedeau and her business partner, Kathy Vanden Boogaard are careful to stick to the potential environmental hazards associated with the pipeline and corporate responsibility.

“This is about water quality,” said Nedeau, not an unhappiness with local people.

On Oct. 16, the diocese hosted a creation care conference focused on both economic and environmental justice. The conference attracted between 40 and 50 like-minded people.

In April, Ray, Street and interfaith water advocates organized by Michigan Interfaith Power & Light gathered in Lansing to speak to Snyder and state representatives about the pipeline’s potential dangers.

“We gathered because we believe that all of humanity is called by God to love and care for all of creation; the issue of the danger of Pipeline 5 is of grave importance to the entire Great Lakes ecosystem and to each of our communities in the Basin,” wrote Ray and Street in a piece scheduled to run in the upcoming issue of The FEAST, published by the Diocese of Eastern Michigan.

“In the Episcopal Church, we believe that we are stewards of creation; called to pursue justice and peace for all people and to care for the world God has given us. The world we inhabit as humans and as Michiganders is in danger,” said Ray in an email to ENS.

“I stand with our Native American brothers and sisters and advocate against the pipeline and tunnel,” Ray wrote. “The environmental and financial impact of a rupture would be devastating to the lands of our Native people and to those of us who occupy it. Let us join together to show compassion for this planet-our island home and work together as advocates for our environment.”

The region’s Native Americans maintain the pipeline violates a treaty granting fishing rights that dates back to 1836. Though tribal leaders have met with the Snyder administration three times over the past year as mandated, they don’t feel heard. Additionally, opponents have argued the state’s 1953 easement granted to Enbridge violates public trust law.

Although the state’s outgoing Republican governor and the oil company came to an agreement, the next step requires Enbridge to reach an agreement with the Mackinac Bridge Authority, which operates the five-mile suspension bridge that connects Upper and Lower Michigan over the Mackinac Straits.

Michigan will elect a new governor in November to replace Snyder, who is term-limited. Two years into Snyder’s second term the Flint water crisis began to make national and international headlines; earlier this year a report found the governor partly to blame for the situation. In August, a U.S. district judge dropped Snyder from a citizen-led class-action lawsuit.

The pipeline has become an election issue, particularly as the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint still reverberates today; that, combined with the 2010 rupture of an Enbridge pipeline that discharged 843,000 gallons of crude tar sands oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River, has raised Michigan residents’ awareness regarding water quality issues. The Kalamazoo spill required a $1.2 billion cleanup and ongoing water-quality monitoring.

Even now, Line 5 isn’t the only Enbridge-operated pipeline in the Great Lakes region to catch the attention of Episcopalians. In Minnesota, church leaders and members have joined Interfaith Power & Light’s opposition to replacing Line 3, which would run across the northern part of the state. Opponents say the pipeline threatens Minnesota’s “climate, environment and Anishinaabe people.” The Anishinaabe, aka Ojibwa, have long grown wild rice in the region. The 79th General Convention expressed its support for the Leek Lake Band of Ojibwe with Resolution C064.

-Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of Episcopal News Service.

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Anglicans around the world respond to the annual Season of Creation

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 5:43pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The annual Season of Creation, which ran from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4, was celebrated by Anglicans around the world in many different ways. The Season of Creation began as an initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarch and has since been endorsed and supported by both Pope Francis and the Anglican Consultative Council. Many other Church groups also take part.

Read the full article here.

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‘Purple’ parish in Minnesota builds paths to compassionate political dialogue

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 5:42pm

The Rev. Devon Anderson, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, Minnesota, checks in at the candidate event co-hosted by the church Oct. 16 at the South Shore Community Center in Shorewood. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Shorewood, Minnesota] Within this politically “purple” state, the Rev. Devon Anderson describes her congregation at Trinity Episcopal Church as a “purple parish,” neither red nor blue but with parishioners who bring viewpoints that touch all points along the political spectrum.

Purple isn’t an easy color for a parish, especially in these increasingly partisan times. Parishioners at the church in Excelsior, Minnesota, where Anderson is rector, had long felt uncomfortable sharing their political views, and some preferred avoiding such topics altogether at church.

Today, the parish is embracing its political diversity rather than hiding from it. Several church volunteers proudly sported their Trinity name badges as they helped stage a local candidate event Oct. 16 at a community center in the adjoining city of Shorewood, about five miles north of the convention center in Chaska where the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council is meeting this week.

The event, through a partnership with the local chamber of commerce and League of Women Voters branch, was part of Trinity’s effort to turn what could be a liability into an opportunity for promoting open, civil discourse. Anderson sees the congregation as a kind of “incubator” for compassionate dialogue across political divides.

“If we have this parish – we care about each other, we celebrate the sacraments together, we’re really focused on building relationships with each other – could we not also use that as a training ground for being out in the community as respectful, kind people?” said Anderson, who is a member of Executive Council.

On this Tuesday evening, that plan seemed to be hitting its mark. A roar of conversation filled the South Shore Community Center as dozens of voters met with candidates for office in communities around the Twin Cities’ west suburbs. Signs, buttons, postcards and banners – Tonka Bay mayor, Hennepin County sheriff, Excelsior City Council, Minnesota House of Representatives – decorated all corners of the room, and some candidates placed cookies on the assigned card tables to sweeten their pitches for support.

Kelly Morrison, a Trinity Episcopal Church member and state House candidate, talks with a local voter at the Oct. 16 event. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

One of the candidates, Kelly Morrison, who is running for a state House seat, is also a member of Trinity. She has been inspired by her church’s efforts to encourage people to talk and listen without prejudging each other based on political beliefs.

“I’m a proud Democrat, but I don’t want conversations to end before they begin,” she told Episcopal News Service. “We’re all on the same team.”

She also thinks Christian teachings, such as loving your neighbor and welcoming the stranger, help inform Christians’ actions as they enter the public sphere. They’re “what all of this should be about,” Morrison said.

Fellow Trinity member Bev Lane, who had volunteered as a greeter at the candidate event, shares that support for the congregation’s efforts.

“When you know the people, you understand them,” Lane said. “I think that we have to be more civil. We have to get along, even though we have differing opinions.”

Gary Veazie, who works part time as facility manager at Trinity, on this occasion was in charge of setting up refreshments in the community center room. He stood watch over the table of snacks and drinks.

“I’m running for doughnuts and water,” Veazie joked.

Candidates for local election in the west suburbs of the Twin Cities talk with voters Oct. 16 at the community center in Shorewood. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Veazie started attending worship services at Trinity in 1980, and he had high praise for the congregation’s several rectors over the years. Anderson, too, is known for giving a “top-level sermon,” he said – including sermons that draw connections between the Gospel and current events, “which is a hard line to walk.”

One particularly difficult sermon in 2016 helped focus the congregation on its civil discourse work.

The presidential election left Anderson in a “panic,” she admitted in her sermon that November, not from her own views on the outcome, but because she wasn’t sure how to unify a congregation with such divergent reactions to Donald Trump being elected president.

Some parishioners were cheerful, while others were in shock. “How are we going to continue together?” she thought.

She found her answer in the very congregation that seemed so divided. “We need church and Christian community more than ever, because within it we can practice the kind of peace and unity we so desire for our country,” Anderson told her congregation.

Minnesota narrowly voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but the state’s counties are a patchwork of blue and red, with the bluest centered around the metro areas of the Twin Cities, Rochester and Duluth. Hennepin County went solidly Democratic; however, Anderson said, Excelsior and other west suburbs are more politically diverse and lean more conservative than Minneapolis.

Trinity Episcopal Church already had begun encouraging parishioners to be more open about their political views and listen to each other respectfully. An early catalyst was Minnesota’s adoption of a law in 2013 legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.

As with other political issues, parishioners’ views on gay marriage varied widely, and “the congregation had never had a conversation about it,” Anderson said. Trinity would need to decide whether it would offer same-sex ceremonies, but first it enlisted a consultant through the University of St. Thomas’ civil discourse lecture series to coach parishioners.

“We needed to learn how to create a safe space for people to really be able to express how they felt, and so we learned a methodology for doing that,” Anderson said.

After strengthening the congregation’s civil discourse skills, the vestry called an all-parish meeting to discuss offering the sacrament of marriage to all people. Parishioners were encouraged to put their newly developed skills to work as they listened to members sharing their views one at a time. The meeting felt like a liturgical experience, Anderson said, as each speech was followed by a moment of silence and hymn singing.

The meeting was well attended and lasted several hours, she said, and when the vestry later voted to offer same-sex ceremonies, it was not the divisive decision it otherwise could have been.

“It was a real moment for the parish,” Anderson said. “Because it was like, we can actually do this. We can be diverse in our opinions, in our political opinions, and we can still be a really close worshiping community.”

Such an approach worked for Trinity, but it need not end there.

“I think this kind of thing should be the leading edge of the Episcopal Church,” said Betty Bright, a vestry member who was volunteering at the candidate meet-and-greet event. “For me, it’s about being open to each person’s heart.”

The candidate meet-and-greet event Oct. 16 was hosted jointly by Trinity Episcopal Church and the local chamber of commerce and League of Women Voters branch. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Fellow vestry member Christopher Williams also attended the event and was pleased by the turnout. Some Episcopalians may attend worship services and just want to hear the Gospel, without talking about how it may apply to contemporary life, he said, but opening paths of conversation across differences can broaden people’s thinking, within the congregation and beyond.

“I think it’s great,” Williams said. “I think it adds a lot to any conversation you’re going to have, with anybody about anything.”

A small team of volunteers from Trinity had been working to host candidate forums at the church, but they struggled to get candidates to commit, Anderson said. In the meantime, the volunteers turned their focus toward supporting the meet-and-greet event Oct. 16.

Monica Wiant, a vestry member and one of the event volunteers, credited Anderson for pressing the congregation not to shy away from conversations just because they may seem uncomfortable. The all-parish meeting on same-sex ceremonies was a big step, she said.

“It was just terrific,” Wiant said. “Because not everybody agreed, but there was a lot of mutual support and listening.”

Wiant, who described herself as “proudly liberal,” was among those parishioners shocked and unsettled by the presidential election, and she appreciated Anderson’s invitation to come together as a faith community. “The church needs to be a place where we can bring those emotions and work through it,” Wiant said.

Whether Republican or Democrat, they are all Christian.

“I think spiritually we have a lot of common ground, regardless of how we vote,” Wiant said.

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

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Brazil’s Anglican bishops condemn hatred and lies in pre-election statement

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 5:41pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil is urging the country’s Christians to “read your Bible in a profound and prayerful way” as the nation prepares for the run-off presidential election. Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro will faceFernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party on Oct. 28.

Read the full article here.

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1,200 volunteers ask to serve on churchwide bodies as Episcopal leaders herald new energy

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 5:29pm

Members of Executive Council break into committees on Oct. 16 in Chaska, Minnesota. Executive Council is one of 65 interim bodies during this triennium. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Chaska, Minnesota] One impressive figure keeps coming up as Executive Council meets here this week: 1,200.

More than 1,200 volunteers from around the Episcopal Church applied to serve on one of the church’s dozens of interim bodies, including those created by the 79th General Convention in July, to address various issues and tasks over the next three years. That response is a 60 percent increase over the applications received for the previous triennium.

Members of Executive Council have heralded that number, calling it representative of the energy in the church following its triennial meeting in Austin, Texas.

“It indicates that people are interested in serving in a churchwide level,” the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, told Episcopal News Service on Oct. 16 during a break in the day’s proceedings at Oak Creek Hotel & Conference Center. “I think it indicates we’re doing some worthwhile and meaningful things.”

Interim body refers to any task force, board or committee created to do work for the church in the interim between the last meeting of General Convention and the next, which will be in 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. The types and numbers of interim bodies have fluctuated since 2015, when General Convention sought to dramatically reduce the number of long-term policy-making bodies, known as standing commissions.

Much of the work that had been done by the eliminated commissions was assigned to newly created task forces, explained Sally Johnson, chancellor to the president of the House of Deputies. So the number of interim bodies has actually increased this triennium to 65. They are listed here.

Some interim bodies are created by church Canon. Executive Council is one such example. General Convention in July created an additional 21 interim bodies by resolution, such as the Task Force on Church Planting and Congregational Redevelopment, the Task Force to Study Sexism and Develop Anti-Sexism Training and the Advisory Council on Disability and Deaf Access.

Even with so many interim bodies, the church won’t have space for all 1,200 volunteers, Jennings said. She estimates there will be 554 appointments this triennium by her office, the presiding bishop’s office or both offices jointly.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, estimates she and the presiding bishop will make 554 appointments from a list of more than 1,200 volunteers to interim bodies. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Jennings maintains a spreadsheet of all applicants and their criteria, which helps assist church leaders in selecting candidates for seats on interim bodies. Her office fills some interim bodies, while the presiding bishop’s office is responsible for filling others. Some will be filled by vote of Executive Council.

“It’s a big undertaking,” Jennings said.

The interim bodies typically have about a dozen members, but some are smaller. The largest, the Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision, was created by General Convention Resolution A068 and will have 30 members – 10 bishops, 10 priests or deacons and 10 lay people.

After General Convention, the application process was promoted across the church, and interested Episcopalians were encouraged to identify which of the interim bodies they’d prefer. Jennings was impressed by the quality of the candidates.

“There’s a huge number of incredible, gifted people in this church. It’s really great,” she said.

This year’s crop of candidates easily topped the 750 or so people who applied in 2015, and Jennings noted that many younger Episcopalians were among the new names on this year’s list.

She and other church leaders are in the process of reviewing all the applications, and applicants should find out soon if they have been selected to an interim body and, if so, which one.

General Convention did not approve funding to support all 65 interim bodies, so each will face its own set of accommodations and limitations in carrying out business over the next three years. Some will meet electronically, and others will meet in person, as Executive Council is doing for four days this week.

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

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Plaque dedicated to mark 130 years of the Mothers’ Union in Ireland

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 4:11pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Both Church of Ireland archbishops took part in the All–Ireland Triennial Thanksgiving Service of the Mothers’ Union this month at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. The highlight of the service was the dedication of a stained glass plaque commissioned to celebrate 130 years of the Mothers’ Union in the island of Ireland last year. The Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson led the service and the sermon was preached by Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clarke, the primate of the Church of Ireland.

Read the full article here.

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Executive Council meets in Minnesota, aims to link ‘local context’ to broader Jesus Movement

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 5:07pm

Presiding Bishop MIchael Curry gives his opening remarks Oct. 15 during the first day of the Executive Council meeting in Chaska, Minnesota. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Chaska, Minnesota] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council kicked off its first meeting since the 79th General Convention on Oct. 15, gathering in a conference center in this Twin Cities suburb to begin discussing how to align church operations with the priorities and mandates established in July.

The 40 voting members of Executive Council and additional nonvoting members are a broad mix of races, ages, genders and places of origin. One example was Table 4, where Honduras Bishop Lloyd Allen from sat across from the Rev. Devon Anderson, rector at the nearby Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, Minnesota. The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, House of Deputies president, lauded the group for its diversity – “more diverse than it was at last triennium, and I think God for that.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry opened the morning session at Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center by using a passage from the Gospel of John to set the tone for this four-day session: “I am the vine, you are the branches,” Jesus said during his Last Supper. “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

Curry came back to those lines several times during remarks that ran about 20 minutes. The church “loses its soul the further it gets away from Jesus of Nazareth,” he said, but the work of the Executive Council will build on the movement of Christians seeking to reclaim what it means to be followers of Jesus and his teachings.

“I know that it’s easy for fads to come and go, and yet it is my deep and earnest prayer that our embracing what it means to be the Jesus Movement will not be a fad that comes and goes,” Curry said.

The Episcopal Church put its beliefs into action through more than 500 resolutions passed at the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas. “Our structures for translating, processing and disseminating strained at the sheer volume” of resolutions, Jennings said, but she was heartened rather than troubled by the numbers. A record number of resolutions shows Episcopalians are energized by their faith.

She also was encouraged by the stunning 1,200 people who have volunteered to serve on one of the interim bodies that continue the work of General Convention during the triennium.

“The good news is 1,200 people want to be involved in the work between conventions,” Jennings said.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, speaks Oct. 15 at Executive Council. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

She opened her remarks by briefly recapping General Convention and couldn’t help getting in final references to the General Convention Pigeon and some deputies’ love of VooDoo doughnuts. Lighter moments aside, during the two weeks in Austin, the bishops and deputies led the church in confronting some of the most pressing issues facing society today, including immigration and gun violence.

The House of Bishops held a “Liturgy of Listening” to tell the stories of sexual abuse and exploitation, including within the church, drawing attention to an issue “that too many church leaders have refused to acknowledge and have only become more urgent since convention concluded.”

Jennings in February appointed a 47-member Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation to lead the church’s efforts, and those efforts will accelerate in the new triennium, Jennings said Oct. 15. She also referenced that work recently in a guest post in The Christian Century written in response to sexual assault allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh made by psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1).

Curry, as presiding bishop, serves as president of Executive Council, and Jennings is vice president. Twenty members of Executive Council – four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 lay people – are elected by General Convention to six-year terms, with half of those members elected every three years. Each of the Episcopal Church’s nine provinces elects an ordained member and a lay member for six years, and those elections also alternate every three years.

Council also has several additional nonvoting members, such as the Episcopal Church’s finance director and chief operating officer.

The agenda for the first day of this Executive Council meeting was light on legislative business, though the group voted in the morning to establish a new roster of committees based on the priorities set by General Convention under Curry. They are Finance, Government & Operations, Ministry Within the Episcopal Church and Ministry Beyond the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Michael Barlowe, secretary of General Convention, gives an overview of the work of Executive Council on Oct. 15. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Michael Barlowe, secretary of General Convention, sought to frame the Executive Council’s business this week partly as an attempt to bridge the gap between the churchwide and the local. “The further you get from the local congregation,” he said, “the more remote things can sometimes seem.”

He encouraged the Executive Council members to keep the local context in mind, and he noted the Executive Council plans to meet in all nine provinces over the course of the triennium leading up to the 80th General Convention in Baltimore Maryland. “We’re going to make an effort to learn more about that local context as we go around,” he said.

The next Executive Council meeting will be Feb. 21-24 in Midwest City, Oklahoma. Future locations have yet to be announced.

Curry, in his remarks, also alluded to unspecified organizational “crises” within the Episcopal Church that had been hindering its spiritual work. “Every crisis is a disguised opportunity, you just have to figure out what it is,” he said. “We realized we needed to do something different.” One of those things was hiring a personnel consultant to study the workplace culture of the churchwide offices and help church leaders improve that culture.

“Through it all, we’re going to love each other and take care of each other,” he said.

Curry was more pointed in making his case for “reclaiming Jesus,” invoking an initiative that he and other ecumenical leaders launched earlier this year to refocus the broader culture on Jesus’ teachings. Certain far-right Evangelical preachers don’t even mention Jesus, Curry said, but they speak with a “religious intonation” that sounds Christian but is actually political.

“Christianity is being hijacked in public perceptions of what it means to be Christian,” Curry said.

By trying to reclaim the Jesus of love and compassion, he said he wasn’t making a political commentary, though “it may have political consequences.”

“That’s what I believe we need, not just in the church,” he said. “I’m talking in the culture, a revival of the way of being Christian that looks something like Jesus, the Jesus that said love is what it’s all about.”

When the group reconvened after lunch, Curry spoke briefly about the “Way of Love”, a rule of life that he, his staff and leaders from around the church developed to help Episcopalians practice being part of the Jesus Movement in their own lives and communities.

Russell Randle, a lay member from the Diocese of Virginia, offered praise and thanks for the Way of Love, which Curry had unveiled during General Convention.

“For the first time, really, in my memory our wider church has put in the hands of people a very able and effective tool to make people at the individual and parish level more effective witnesses of the Gospel,” Randle said. One of the resolutions at Virginia’s upcoming convention would ask parishes how they plan to implement the Way of Love locally, he said.

Allen, the Honduras bishop, speaking through a interpreter, emphasized the need to change how the church reaches the younger generation, including through smarter use of technology and rethinking what church should be in today’s world.

“Jesus Christ has challenged us,” Allen said. “Jesus Christ is challenging this church. … Let’s leave our old ways behind, and let’s do what Jesus called us to do.”

The Executive Council’s mandate is to provide top-level leadership for the church during the triennium, but Allis Freeman worried that most Episcopalians don’t understand its function.

“We’ve heard that all politics is local. I think all church stuff is actually local, too,” said Freeman, a lay member from the Diocese of North Carolina. “There are people who do not know there is an Executive Council. There are people who do not know what the executive council does.”

She urged the church to communicate that mission more widely, adding this is one way to improve outreach to young people.

As if on cue, much of the rest of the afternoon was devoted to a presentation about the role of the Executive Council, led by Sally Johnson, chancellor for the president of the House of Deputies, and Douglas Anning, chief legal officer.

More information about Executive Council can be found here, and the Executive Council bylaws are here.

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

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Gulf Coast churches remain in ‘rescue phase’ after Hurricane Michael

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 3:38pm

First responders and residents walk along a main street following Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida, on Oct. 11, 2018. Carlo Allegri/REUTERS

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal churches on the Gulf Coast, including parts of Georgia and North and South Carolina, continue to assess Hurricane Michael’s damage, with some in the hardest hit coast areas still in the rescue phase.

“We’re at a time when every tree is down, and every roof is compromised,” said Dwight Babcock, diocesan administrator for the Episcopal Church of the Central Gulf Coast, in an Oct. 15 interview with Episcopal News Service. “This [recovery] is a marathon, not a sprint. We just don’t know what we’re looking at.”

On Oct. 12, Babcock and Central Gulf Coast Bishop Russell Kendrick traveled east from Pensacola to Panama City and other affected areas to visit some of the 11 affected churches. The bishop made a second trip the following day with a small group to distribute generators and other emergency supplies, said Babcock.

Ten of the 11 damaged churches held services “in one form or another,” on Oct. 14; some inside the churches, some outdoors in pavilions, he said.

On Oct. 10, Hurricane Michael made landfall near Panama City, Florida, as one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the mainland United States, killing 19 people. A Category 4 hurricane packing 155 mph winds, Michael wiped out trees and flattened buildings. Five days later thousands of  people remained without electricity.

“From Highway 79 to the eastern edge of our diocese, the road conditions are still not safe for anyone to travel,” said Kendrick in a video posted on the diocese’s website. “Please be patient. Let’s let the trained responders do their jobs and make the conditions safe so we can get in there and help as necessary.”

The Episcopal Church of the Central Gulf Coast has created a Hurricane Relief Hub, listing ways to donate to hurricane relief efforts. The diocese also offers emergency preparedness and response resources. The diocese includes the Florida Panhandle and parts of southern Alabama.

Communities inland, in Georgia and further into the Southeast, were affected by Hurricane Michael; some of those communities continue to recover from Hurricane Florence, which made landfall as a Category 1 storm on Sept. 14 near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. The Diocese of East Carolina, which covers North Carolina’s coast, also has issued an appeal for support.

The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia reports significant damage in Albany, Brainbridge, Americus and the surrounding counties. Tree damage was significant in Albany, affecting the infrastructure and leaving many without power or potable water. In Bainbridge and Decatur County, roofs were blown off and trees took out power lines, blocked streets, and crashed into houses, according to Episcopal Relief & Development.

“The local dioceses are continuing to assess the damage caused by the storm,” said Katie Mears, senior director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s U.S. Disaster Program, in a statement posted on its website. “Disasters have three phases: rescue, relief and recovery. We are prepared to support them as we move into the next phase of providing relief to affected communities.”

-Lynette Wilson is reporter and managing editor for Episcopal News Service.

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Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘All Nigerians have in your hands a golden future’

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 1:13pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, have taken part in a pre-election interfaith peace conference in Nigeria. Giving the keynote address at the “Religious Harmony in Nigeria: Towards the 2019 General Elections” conference in Abuja, Welby told the audience that “Peace requires justice.” He said: “Attacks cannot be treated with impunity. Truth needs telling and arriving at the truth that is to be told is a complex process.” While in Abuja, Welby held separate meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari and opposition presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar. A series of primaries will be held between now at the election date of  Feb. 16, 2019. The new president will be inaugurated on May 29, 2019.

Read the full article here.

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Archbishop Rowan Williams leads Anglican delegation at canonization of Oscar Romero

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 1:07pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams led an Anglican delegation to the Vatican this weekend for the canonization of Oscar Romero.  Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby sent a letter to Pope Francis in which he described the former archbishop of San Salvador, who was assassinated as he celebrated Mass in March 1980, as “a true example to all Christians, and particularly to our fellow bishops.” The weekend’s service at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, also saw the canonization of Pope Paul VI and five other saints: Francesco Spinelli, Vincenzo Romano, Maria Catherine Kasper, Nazaria Ignazia of Saint Teresa of Jesus, and Nuncio Sulprizio.

Read the full article here.

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‘Activen’ a los ciudadanos para reclamar derechos humanos y gobiernos que los garanticen, dicen los líderes de Cristosal

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 11:47am

Noah Bullock, a la derecha, director ejecutivo de Cristosal, se dirige al publico en la Universidad de San Luis, Misurí, sobre el tema de los refugiados y los derechos humanos. Lo escuchan David Morales, al centro, director de litigios estratégicos de Cristosal, y el Rdo. Mike Angell, rector de la iglesia episcopal de la Santa Comunión en University City, Misurí. Foto de Sid Hastings/WUSTI (las fotos se han reimpreso con permiso).

[Episcopal News Service – St. Louis] Un grupo de derechos humanos en El Salvador fundado por clérigos episcopales ha recurrido a los tribunales para obligar al gobierno del país a vivir a la altura de su responsabilidad de proteger a centenares de miles de ciudadanos desplazados internamente por la violencia desenfrenada, delincuencial y de otro tipo.

Y cuando esos refugiados de la violencia vienen a Estados Unidos, este país tiene también una responsabilidad de brindarles un asilo seguro, dijo Noah Bullock, el director ejecutivo de Cristosal, el 8 de octubre en la Universidad de Washington en San Luis, en un simposio sobre una respuesta a la inmigración y a la violencia desde la perspectiva de la fe.

“A ninguna persona puede negársele un lugar en el planeta Tierra donde pueda ser libre de persecución”, dijo Bullock, al hablar en el  Centro sobre Religión y Política John C. Danforth , que lleva el nombre del senador John Danforth, republicano de Misurí y sacerdote episcopal.

Contrario a la opinión popular, dijo Bullock, el típico inmigrante que cruza la frontera sur de Estados Unidos ya no es un mexicano en busca de trabajo, sino alguien proveniente de los países del [llamado]“Triángulo Norte” [de América Central] , El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala, que huye de la violencia de las pandillas. Cristosal, que tiene oficinas en los tres países, dirige centros de acogida en ellos para la protección de los desplazados. Sin embargo, la solución definitiva no consiste en que agrupaciones  privadas reemplacen al gobierno en ese papel protector, dijo Bullock. Más bien, instituciones como Cristosal logran reformas estructurales a largo plazo “motivando” a las víctimas a reclamar sus derechos, y al estado a cumplir con sus deberes. La Convención de Naciones Unidas sobre los refugiados de 1951, dijo Bullock, enuncia este deber para cualquier país que reciba a personas que huyan de la persecución.

Bullock describió una ejecución exitosa de su estrategia de activación. Cristosal demandó al gobierno de El Salvador en nombre de seis familias obligadas a abandonar sus hogares debido a la violencia de las pandillas, arguyendo que un gobierno indiferente había violado sus derechos constitucionales. En julio, el Tribunal Supremo del país falló a favor de las familias, ordenándole al gobierno que reconociera el problema del desplazamiento forzoso después de haberlo desmentido durante años, que impidiera que sucediera y que ayudara a las víctimas.

David Morales, que dirige el equipo de litigio estratégico de Cristosal, le contó a los 75 asistentes en la Universidad de Washington de otro intento de exigir responsabilidades a los poderosos de El Salvador a través de los tribunales. Cristosal está acusando privadamente a los perpetradores de la masacre de El Mozote, en la cual soldados del gobierno adiestrados por EE.UU. mataron a más de 1.000 civiles —más de la mitad de ellos niños— en 1981. Morales comenzó a investigar la masacre durante el conflicto cuando trabajaba en la oficina de derechos humanos de la arquidiócesis católica de San Salvador, la capital de la nación. (Morales también buscó justicia para el asesinato del arzobispo Oscar Romero en 1980, un defensor de los pobres que  será canonizado como santo católico el 14 de octubre).

El caso de El Mozote se paralizó cuando la guerra civil terminó en 1992 con un acuerdo de amnistía que protegió de enjuiciamiento a los criminales de guerra. Sin embargo, en 2016, el Tribunal Supremo del país anuló la amnistía como inconstitucional. Ese fallo le permitió a Morales retomar [el caso] donde lo había dejado años antes.

Morales dijo que el uso de violencia flagrante contra los civiles durante la guerra ha persistido en el presente en que la policía y el ejército salvadoreño asumen un criterio de “puño de hierro” hacia la violencia pandilleril “sin invertir en políticas para la prevención de delitos”. En el proceso, los jóvenes de quienes meramente se sospecha que pertenecen a pandillas enfrentan prisión, tortura y ejecución extrajudicial, dijo él.

Bullock añadió que es importante enjuiciar crímenes de guerra de hace décadas porque ¨cuando no hay verdad, cuando no hay justicia,  hay una continuación de la norma”.

“Creemos que podemos impugnar la premisa de impunidad, la premisa de que el poderoso puede hacer lo que quiera del débil sin consecuencias”, dijo Bullock acerca del caso judicial. “Es algo que buscamos eliminar”

En lugar de instar a Estados Unidos a proteger a refugiados del Triángulo Norte, Bullock y Morales no abordaron las controversiales políticas migratorias de EE.UU. sobre separación de familias, estatus de protección temporal o Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia [DACA]. Bullock abordó de manera más amplia la importancia de Estados Unidos, no obstante imperfecta, en la salvaguarda de los derechos humanos.

“Significa mucho para el mundo cuando Estados Unidos dice que los derechos humanos son importantes”, dijo Bullock. Hay una palanca, entonces, para organizaciones como la nuestra para abogar”.

“Pero cuando Estados Unidos renuncia a su papel de liderazgo, hay menos presión para promover esos cambios”, dijo él. Advirtió de un resurgimiento del autoritarismo a través del planeta e “incluso en nuestro propio país”, que envalentona a los violadores de los derechos humanos. Sirva de ejemplo: “En Nicaragua, el régimen ha matado a más de 400 personas que protestaban en los últimos meses y expulsaron del país al Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos sin importarles ninguna repercusión [internacional]”, afirmó.

Bullock también impugnó la caracterización que hizo el presidente Donald Trump de El Salvador y otras naciones en desarrollo como “agujeros de mierda”, diciendo que el Presidente ignora las políticas de EE.UU. que han configurado a esos países para lo peor a lo largo de los años. Por ejemplo, las balas usadas por los soldados del gobierno en la masacre de El Mozote se fabricaron en una planta de municiones de Independence, Misurí, dijo Bullock.

“No podemos vernos al margen de las condiciones que existen allí”, afirmó.

Un panel de tres activistas religiosos de San Luis que participaron en el simposio relacionaron la obra de Cristosal en América Central a sus propias  misiones. “La fe es personal, pero no privada —la fe tiene que ser pública”, dijo el Rdo. Travis Winckler, pastor de la segunda Iglesia Presbiteriana. Su congregación, dijo Winckler, está intentando hacer realidad esas palabras salvando el abismo entre un barrio predominantemente afroamericano que queda justo al norte [y] que ha experimentado “el residuo histórico del racismo” y un barrio más próspero e integrado que está al lado.

Para la Rda. Dietra Wise-Baker, que estuvo activa en las protestas en Ferguson, Misurí, luego de la muerte a tiros por la policía de Michael Brown, el “puño de hierro” que blandiera el ejército y la policía salvadoreña “suenan como la misma historia, la misma cantinela, que tuvo lugar aquí, con la policía en atuendo antimotines”.

“¿Cómo entenderán que están a nuestro servicio?”, dijo Wise-Baker. “Hay mucho en común entre nuestro pueblo y el pueblo de El Salvador”. Ella añadió que anteriormente no había visto la opresión de los afroamericanos a través de una lente de derechos humanos.

Wise-Baker, organizadora comunitaria con una agrupación llamada Congregaciones Metropolitanas Unidas, está de acuerdo con Cristosal en lo que respecta al uso del sistema judicial. En agosto, su agrupación presentó en un tribunal federal una demanda legal contra un distrito escolar local —junto con agencias educativas de Misurí— por supuestamente brindarles educación de calidad inferior a niños indigentes, en violación de estatutos federales. “Esta es una manera de intentar que el estado asuma su responsabilidad”, dijo ella.

Los panelistas también comentaron sobre las falsas caracterizaciones o narrativas repetidas sobre las personas privadas de derechos humanos, tales como el concepto erróneo de que los inmigrantes indocumentados que entran por la frontera sur son en su mayoría buscadores de empleo o, como Trump ha dicho, “delincuentes y violadores”.

“En verdad no me gustaría  repetir lo que se dice contra nosotros”, dijo la majarat Rori Picker Neiss, directora ejecutiva del Consejo de Relaciones de la Comunidad Judía de San Luis.

Neiss dijo que una narrativa falsa  sostenía el criterio común de que los posibles inmigrantes  debían venir aquí legalmente como los recién llegados de generaciones anteriores.

“Tenemos historias de judíos que entraron ilegalmente en el país”, dijo ella. “En mi infancia, muchos de los relatos que oímos eran de personas que heroicamente falsificaron documentos, robaron documentos, y todo lo que necesitaron hacer para sobrevivir”.

– Robert Lowes, periodista independiente y poeta, es miembro de la iglesia episcopal de la Santa Comunión [Holy Communion] en University City, Misurí, un suburbio de San Luis. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

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