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El Obispo Primado aplaza la ordenación y consagración ya programada en la Diócesis de Haití

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 5:40am
El obispo primado de la Iglesia Episcopal Michael Curry ha emitido la siguiente declaración:

Hasta esta fecha,  5 de diciembre de 2018, la mayoría de los obispos con jurisdicción en la Iglesia Episcopal no han consentido aún en la ordenación y consagración del venerable Joseph Kerwin Delicat como Obispo Coadjutor de Haití.  A fin de colaborar con los que, provenientes de toda la Iglesia, se disponen a viajar o hacen otros planes [para esta ocasión], les hago saber que  estoy aplazando la ya programada ordenación y consagración a una fecha aún por determinar. El proceso de consentimiento concluye el 3 de enero de 2019.

Ruego continúen orando por todos nuestros hermanos y hermanas de la Diócesis de Haití.

Rvdmo. Michael B. Curry
Obispo Presidente y Primado
de la Iglesia Episcopal

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Country says farewell to George H.W. Bush at Washington National Cathedral

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 5:31pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, center; Washington National Cathedral Dean Randy Hollerith, left; and the Rev. Russell Levenson Jr., right, rector of President George H.W. Bush’s Houston congregation, perform the commendation near the end of Bush’s Dec. 5 funeral. The Rev. Canon Rosemarie Logan Duncan, the cathedral’s canon for worship, stands at left holding the crozier for Washington Bishop Mariann Budde, who cannot be seen between Hollerith and Curry. The Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church, stands between Curry and Levenson holding the presiding bishop’s primatial staff. Photo: Danielle E. Thomas/Washington National Cathedral

[Episcopal News Service] With a combination of military precision, Episcopal Church liturgy and fond, sometimes humorous, remembrances from his family and friends, the United States on Dec. 5 formally bid farewell to former President George H.W. Bush.

“When death comes, as it does to us all, life is changed, not ended,” the Rev. Russell Levenson Jr., rector of Bush’s Houston congregation, said during his state funeral sermon. “The way we live our lives, the decisions we make, the service we render matter. They matter to our fellow human beings, to this world that God has given us and they matter to God. Few people had understood this as well or lived their lives as accordingly as President George Herbert Walker Bush.

“Now hear what I said: lived it. Not earned it or strived to achieve it. It was as natural to him as breathing is to each of us.”

Recalling Barbara Bush’s frequent comment to him of “good sermon, too long,” Levenson preached for just more than 12 minutes during the service at Washington Nation Cathedral, which ran nearly two and a half hours.

The service, which can be viewed here, drew a capacity, invitation-only crowd of nearly 3,000 people, including family members, all five living U.S. presidents, senators, representatives, Supreme Court justices, Trump administration officials, diplomats and foreign dignitaries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Britain’s Prince Charles.

President George H.W. Bush’s casket stands in the crossing of Washington National Cathedral during his Dec. 5 funeral. Photo: US Army Military District of Washington

It was the fourth presidential funeral held at the cathedral. The previous three state funerals at the cathedral were President Dwight Eisenhower in 1969, President Ronald Reagan in 2004 and President Gerald Ford in 2007. Bush gave eulogies at Reagan’s and Ford’s funerals at the cathedral. President Woodrow Wilson is entombed at the cathedral, but his 1924 burial service was not a state funeral.

The last funeral at Washington National Cathedral to approach such significance was the service for U.S. Sen. John McCain on Sept. 1. But a state funeral is an honor reserved for presidents, part of the series of tributes coordinated by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington.

Bush’s casket arrived by hearse at the cathedral just before 11 a.m., accompanied by the Bush family. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Washington Bishop Mariann Budde, the cathedral’s Dean Randy Hollerith and Levenson, of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, waited on the cathedral’s steps with the Rev. Rosemarie Logan Duncan, the cathedral’s canon for worship.

The military pallbearers slowly and precisely carried the casket up the steps to where Curry and Budde recited the traditional “reception of the body” prayers. “With faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the body of our brother George for burial,” Curry said at the door.

The Bush family was escorted into the church and, at the front pew, the president’s son, former President George W. Bush, greeted President Donald Trump and former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and their wives, who sat together in the front pew across the aisle from the Bush family.

A sweet moment on a sad day.

Slate of candidates for the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Northern California announced

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 1:49pm

[Diocese of Northern California] The Standing Committee announces the slate of candidates who will appear on the ballot for the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California on Feb. 9, 2019.

The candidates are (alphabetical order):

The Rev. Matthew D. Cowden, rector of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, South Bend, Indiana

The Rev. Christopher Brooke Craun, rector of St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, Portland, Oregon

The Rev. Canon Megan Traquair, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona

The Rev. Randall R. Warren, D.Min., rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Kalamazoo, Michigan

On Saturday, Dec. 1, members of the Search Committee presented these candidates to the Standing Committee. In a closed session, the Standing Committee further discerned and voted on each candidate, unanimously approving each of the candidates listed above.

Dec. 5, 2018, marks the opening of a petition period, with any petitions due by Dec.  12, 2018. A final slate, including any approved petition candidates, will be published by mid-January 2019.

A special electing convention is scheduled for Feb.9, 2019. A service of ordination and consecration is expected to take place on June 29, 2019, in Davis, California.

The full announcement can be found on the Bishop Search website.

The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California encompasses all of Northern California from Sacramento north, except for the five counties of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Anglican Church of New Zealand apologizes for Colonial-era Maori land grab

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 4:36pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop Philip Richardson, senior bishop of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, has apologized to the Maori people of Lake Tauranga for an 1866 decision that saw them dispossessed of their lands. Since 1975, the government has issued several apologies for the actions of colonial and post-colonial governments, which stripped the first people of the islands of their inherited land. On Dec. 1, the church issued its open apology for playing a role in that dispossession.

Read the full article here.

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Washington National Cathedral prepares to host state funeral for George H.W. Bush

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 3:46pm

President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush attend a dedication ceremony at Washington National Cathedral on Sept. 29, 1990, when the last stone was raised and set on the Saint Paul Tower. Photo: Associated Press

[Episcopal News Service] President George H.W. Bush, a lifelong Episcopalian who credited his faith with shaping his public life, will be memorialized Dec. 5 at a state funeral held at Washington National Cathedral, the Episcopal Church’s and the nation’s most prominent house of worship.

Bush, who died Nov. 30 at age 94, had a long, respected career in Washington, D.C., including as vice president from 1981 to 1989 and president from 1989 to 1993, and during his 12 years in the White House engaged often with Episcopal Church leaders, conferring with presiding bishops on the issues of the day and even once speaking at General Convention.

He also developed a friendship with former Washington Bishop John Walker, and as president, Bush and first lady Barbara Bush attended the 1990 ceremony marking completion of the cathedral after 83 years of construction. Today, two of his children are members of the cathedral congregation.

The 11 a.m. service Dec. 5 with be the fourth presidential funeral held at the cathedral. The family selected as officiants Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Washington Bishop Marian Budde, the cathedral’s Dean Randy Hollerith and the Rev. Russell Levenson Jr., rector of Bush’s Houston congregation. Levenson also will preach at the service.

“Beyond the political achievements and historic accolades, President Bush was committed most to his family and his faith. He and his beloved Barbara poured their love into their children and raised them in faith,” Budde and Hollerith said in a joint statement. “George and Barbara Bush’s example of mutual devotion, fidelity, and commitment is inspiring, and it should give everyone great joy to know that Mr. and Mrs. Bush’s love continues into eternity.”

The president’s son, former President George W. Bush, will be among the eulogists at the funeral. The others will be former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson and Bush biographer Jon Meacham, according to the order of service.

In addition to the late president’s son, Presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are due to attend the funeral, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, CNN reported.

The service is expected to draw a capacity, invitation-only crowd of up to 3,000 people, including family members, senators, representatives, Supreme Court justices, Trump administration officials, diplomats and foreign dignitaries, with U.S. Secret Service establishing security protocols, cathedral spokesman Kevin Eckstrom told Episcopal News Service.

“Easter and Christmas, as complicated as they can be, feel pretty routine compared to something like this,” Eckstrom said.

The last funeral at Washington National Cathedral to approach such significance was the service for U.S. Sen. John McCain on Sept. 1. But a state funeral is an honor reserved for presidents, part of a series of tributes coordinated by the U.S. Department of Defense as a final sendoff for the former commander-in-chief.

“We, the men and women of the Department of Defense, are honored and proud to support the Bush family and will do so with the utmost respect,” Major Gen. Michael L. Howard, the commanding general of the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region, said in a written statement. “This state funeral is a culmination of years of planning and rehearsal to ensure the support the military renders President Bush is nothing less than a first-class tribute.”

Former President George H.W. Bush gives a eulogy at President Ronald Reagan’s state funeral June 11, 2004, at Washington National Cathedral. Photo: White House archives

The previous three state funerals at the cathedral, were President Dwight Eisenhower in 1969, President Ronald Reagan in 2004 and President Gerald Ford in 2007. Bush gave eulogies at Reagan’s and Ford’s funerals at the cathedral. President Woodrow Wilson is entombed at the cathedral, but his 1924 burial service was not a state funeral.

“It is a sacred rite. It is a church service, and it has to be a good experience for everybody inside the building, but particularly the family,” Eckstrom said. “At the same time, this is also a global news event, so everything is done with an eye to what it is going to look like on TV.”

ABC has long been the TV network designated to provide the pool feed for high-profile events like this at the cathedral, and by Dec. 3, the network had three tractor-trailers filled with equipment on the grounds in preparation.

The local TV station WTOP reported on the clutter of microphones, tripods, TV monitors and wires at the cathedral as a worker was being suspended in the air to hang spotlights overlooking an altar that had been labeled a “stage.”

The cathedral staff is mobilizing to complete its part of this multilayered puzzle of preparations, such as printing about 5,000 leaflets with the order of service and ensuring they are delivered before Secret Service closes the building for a security sweep.

Read the order of service here.

Eckstrom said the funeral will adhere closely to the Book of Common Prayer, and the hymns will be familiar to anyone who picks up The Hymnal 1982 from the pew in their Episcopal congregation each Sunday.

“This [state funeral] probably has more of an Episcopal flavor to it than some of the others might,” he said, given Bush’s Episcopal faith.

As a child in Connecticut, Bush attended Christ Episcopal Church in Greenwich, and his mother would read to him from the Book of Common Prayer, according to the Washington Post report on his faith.

“He was Episcopalian by tradition. His mother was extremely devout, read all the books. And he loved his mother and so he loved the tradition,” author Doug Wead told the Washington Post, adding that Bush also pointed to his service as a naval aviator in World War II as pivotal to his faith development.

After moving to Texas as an adult, Bush at first attended a Presbyterian church with his wife before the couple settled in Houston and joined St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.

As vice president, met with Episcopal leaders, including Presiding Bishop John Allin, who in February 1982 raised concerns with Bush about a recent postage rate hike.

“I am grateful for the vice president’s interest,” Allin said in an ENS story. “The postal increase was one of the matters we discussed, and I am grateful that he made the time for the talk available. I am hopeful that something will be done.”

Vice President George Bush speaks to General Convention in 1982. Photo: Episcopal Church archive

Later in 1982, when Bush addressed the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, the speech reportedly proved controversial for its remarks in defense of the Reagan administration’s arms policy.

“Vice President George Bush assured nearly 3,000 of his fellow Episcopalians of governmental desires for peace as he addressed a special session of the 67th General Convention of the Episcopal Church,” the caption said on an archival photo from that speech.

As president he attended services at St. John’s Episcopal Church, across Lafayette Square from the White House. In December 1990, during the run-up to the Persian Gulf War, he met with then Presiding Bishop Ed Browning, who recommended restraint.

″I really believe in the deepest part of my conviction that God does not desire this kind of destruction,″ Browning said, according to an Associated Press report at the time.

Bush countered by presenting an Amnesty International report on atrocities by Iraq against Kuwaitis and asked Browning if doing nothing would be morally worse.

“His own faith was sincere and deep and rooted in the Episcopal Church,” Budde told ENS in an interview. She also referenced correspondence she discovered between Bush and Walker, including letters in which the bishop and the vice president debated the proper way to respond to apartheid in South Africa.

Bush “was a good colleague, I would even say friend, to Bishop John Walker. Their tenures coincided.” Walker served the diocese until his death in 1989.

Bush will be buried after a private service scheduled for 4:15 p.m. Dec. 6 at the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum in College Station, Texas. Barbara Bush, who died April 17, was buried there earlier this year after a funeral attended by a crowd of mourners at St. Martin’s, the largest congregation in the Episcopal Church. The Bushes were married 73 years.

St. Martin’s also is scheduled to hold a funeral service for the former president at 11 a.m. Dec. 6 after his remains are returned to Texas.

First, he will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol through the day on Dec. 4.

On Dec. 5, the casket will leave the Capitol in time for the funeral at Washington National Cathedral, which will air on all major broadcast TV and cable news networks and will be livestreamed by various websites, including C-SPAN.

“Through his enduring commitment to public service and his steadfast devotion to his family, he lived the way of Jesus through a life shaped by faith, hope and, above all, love,” Curry said in a tribute to Bush issued Dec. 1. “Through his unswerving service to our country and to the human community around the globe, he embodied the noblest ideals of his faith and his country.

“President Bush will be an enduring reminder that virtues like kindness, gentleness and goodness are among the things that truly endure, and that chart the way to our living as the human family of God. In him we have beheld a great soul, and been reminded of the hope that, by God’s grace, we can live likewise.”

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

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Al Ministerio Episcopal de Migración y a otras 8 agencias les otorgaron nuevos contratos para reasentar refugiados

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 9:48am

[Episcopal News Service] El Departamento de Estado, pese a la decisión del gobierno de Trump de reducir drásticamente el número de refugiados autorizados a reasentarse en Estados Unidos, ha renovado los contratos con las nueve agencias que durante mucho tiempo han coordinado el reasentamiento de refugiados, entre ellas el Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, o EMM [por su sigla en inglés].

La decisión, que se les comunicó a las agencias el 30 de noviembre, les permite continuar sus actividades de reasentamiento durante otro año, aunque a una capacidad mucho menor que durante el gobierno de Obama.

“Nos congratulamos de seguir reasentando refugiados en el próximo años”, dijo el 3 de diciembre el Rdo. Charles Robertson, canónigo del Obispo Primado para el Ministerio Fuera de la Iglesia Episcopal en un comunicado de prensa en que anunciaba la decisión del Departamento de Estado. “Aún encaramos el reto de la transición a un programa de reasentamiento mucho más pequeño. Esto sucede en un momento en el que hay más de 25,4 millones de refugiados, más de la mitad de los cuales son niños. Con apoyo de todos, seguiremos recibiendo refugiados en un lugar de seguridad y acogida”.

La refugiada siria Baraa Haj Khalaf, a la izquierda, besa a su padre, Khaled, mientras su madre, Fattoum, llora luego de llegar al Aeropuerto Internacional O’Hare, en Chicago, Illinois, en febrero de 2017. Foto de Reuters.

Robertson también invitó a los episcopales a apoyar económicamente este ministerio haciendo una donación en episcopalmigrationministries.org/give o enviando un texto a “EMM” para 41444.

El Departamento de Estado anunció el 17 de septiembre que, para el año fiscal que comenzó el 1 de octubre, reduciría el límite a 30.000 refugiados, de 85.000 que era hace sólo dos años. Y que 30.000 era el tope. El número real de refugiados a ser recibidos en Estados Unidos podría ser mucho más bajo.

El EMM ha reasentado más de 90.000 refugiados desde los años 80, brindando una amplia gama de servicios a estas familias a su llegada a Estados Unidos, entre ellos clases de inglés y de orientación cultural, servicios de empleo, matrícula escolar y ayuda inicial con vivienda y transporte.

“Reasentamos refugiados para reunir familias, para salvar vidas de personas con graves afecciones de salud y para proteger a los que huyen de la persecución religiosa, entre otras necesidades de protección. Como Iglesia, seguimos abogando por un mayor número de admisiones de refugiados y porque EE.UU. restaure su liderazgo global en la protección y el reasentamiento de refugiados”, dijo Lacy Broemel, asesora de refugiados e inmigración de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia Episcopal con sede en Washington, D.C.

Para los líderes de la Iglesia, el anuncio de última hora del Departamento de Estado de sus renovaciones de contratos —a sólo un mes antes de que caducara el contrato actual—  fue un acontecimiento positivo a corto plazo luego de un período de tensa incertidumbre, pero las renovaciones no mitigan las preocupaciones a largo plazo sobre el futuro del programa de reasentamiento del gobierno.

“Seguimos profundamente preocupados de que la Administración continúe desmantelando el Programa Estadounidense de Admisión de Refugiados —un programa que ha estado en vigor durante décadas apoyo bipartidario , y amplio respaldo público”, dijo Broemel en un email. “Al reducir de manera tan drástica el número de refugiados que serán admitidos en EE.UU. cada año, las agencias de reasentamiento no podrán atender a muchas personas vulnerables, y muchas comunidades de todo el país ya no podrán llevar a cabo la labor vivificadora del ministerio de reasentamiento de refugiados”.

El EMM en un tiempo supervisaba a 31 filiales de reasentamiento en 26 diócesis, pero ese número se ha reducido este año a 14 filiales en 12 diócesis. La extensión de la labor de reasentamiento del EMM durante el año próximo no resulta clara de momento ahora que le acaban de renovar su contrato para el año civil.

La iglesia episcopal de La Trinidad de  Los Ángeles posa con carteles que muestran su apoyo a inmigrantes y refugiados. Los carteles dicen “Apoye a los Refugiados”[con el hashtag] “#GreaterAs1”. Foto de la iglesia episcopal de La Trinidad vía Facebook.

La agencia ha recibido un firme respaldo de toda la Iglesia. El Consejo Ejecutivo aprobó una resolución en octubre en la cual encomiaba al EMM, “cuyo dedicado personal, durante una temporada de fluctuación e incertidumbre, ha trabajado incansable y abnegadamente para apoyar a los refugiados en muchas partes del mundo que buscan reasentarse en Estados Unidos”.

El obispo primado Michael Curry emitió un comunicado en septiembre en que daba a conocer su decepción luego de que el gobierno anunciara los nuevos límites a los reasentamientos.

“Nuestros corazones y nuestras oraciones están con los miles de refugiados que, debido a esta decisión, no podrán encontrar una nueva vida en Estados Unidos”, dijo Curry. “Esta decisión del gobierno no refleja la asistencia y la compasión de los estadounidenses que a diario acogen a refugiados en sus comunidades. Nuestra fe nos llama a amar a Dios y a amar a nuestro prójimo, de manera que estamos prestos a ayudar a todos los que podamos de cualquier manera que podamos”.

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

 

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Mark Cowell consecrated bishop of Diocese of Western Kansas

Mon, 12/03/2018 - 3:36pm

Bishops and clergy gathered in Salinas, Kansas, on Dec. 1 for the consecration of Western Kansas Bishop Mark Cowell, center. Photo: Diocese of Western Kansas

[Diocese of Western Kansas] Episcopalians and invited guests from across Kansas and the United States gathered Dec. 1 at Christ Cathedral in Salina to welcome and celebrate the ordination and consecration of the Diocese of Western Kansas’ sixth bishop. The Rt. Rev. Mark A. Cowell succeeds the Rt. Rev. Michael Milliken, who served the diocese for nearly seven years.

Elected on May 5, Bishop Cowell will lead Episcopalians in a largely rural diocese covering the western counties of Kansas. Like many clergy within the diocese as well as his predecessor, Cowell will be a bi-vocational bishop. A lawyer who once prosecuted gang members in Dodge City, the new bishop will continue to serve as vicar of Sts. Mary and Martha of Bethany in Larned and of Holy Nativity in Kinsley. He also works part-time as Dodge City’s municipal prosecutor and is currently in his second term as Hodgeman County attorney.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, led the ceremony as chief consecrator.

Assisting the presiding bishop as co-consecrators were Milliken, fifth bishop of Western Kansas; the Rt. Rev. James Adams, fourth bishop of Western Kansas, and the Rt. Rev. Martin Fields, bishop of Western Missouri. The Very Rev. David Hodges, dean of Christ Cathedral, served as master of ceremonies.

A reception to meet and greet Cowell and  Curry was held at the Salina Country Club following the ceremony.

Cowell was raised in the Episcopal Church and fell in love with Anglican liturgy while living in England as a child. After returning to the United States, he served as an acolyte at St. Peter’s Church in Essex Fells, New Jersey, until he left home for college.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Drew University in 1990, and his Juris Doctorate from Washburn University Law School in 1994. Shortly after admission to the Kansas Bar in 1994, he felt the call to ministry. Trained locally, he was ordained a transitional deacon in October 2003 and a priest in June 2004.

Cowell, his wife, Julie, and their three children, Gabriel, Cathleen and Gryffin, live in Larned.

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Former Church Mission Society chief becomes bishop in England

Mon, 12/03/2018 - 3:16pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The former executive leader of the international Anglican mission agency Church Mission Society has been consecrated as a bishop in the Church of England. Bishop Philip Mounstephen will serve the Diocese of Truro in the south west of England. He was consecrated on Nov. 30 at a service led by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Read the full article here.

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Anglicans in Japan to host international anti-nuclear forum

Mon, 12/03/2018 - 3:13pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Communion in Japan is to host an International Forum for a Nuclear-Free World in Sendai, with field-work in Fukushima – scene of the March 2011 disaster in which a massive earthquake and tsunami caused a number of explosions in the town’s coastal nuclear power station, leading to widespread radioactive contamination with serious health and environmental effects.

Every diocese in Japan is participating in the conference in May, and representatives from Anglican Communion provinces with strong ties to Japan are also sending representatives.

Read the full article here.

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Diocese of San Joaquin cathedral welcomes new dean, ‘historic’ deacon ordinations

Mon, 12/03/2018 - 1:58pm

The Very Rev. Ryan Newman, second row and right, was the first dean to be installed at Fresno’s St. James Cathedral in more than a decade. The altar party included, front row, Emily Cabbiness and Tony Alvarez. Also pictured, San Joaquin Bishop David Rice. Photo: Jeff March/Diocese of San Joaquin

[Episcopal News Service] Diocese of San Joaquin Episcopalians gathered joyously Dec. 1 to welcome a new cathedral dean and to celebrate the first deacon ordinations at St. James Cathedral in Fresno, California, in at least a decade.

“We’re calling it a diocesan day of celebration,” San Joaquin Bishop David Rice said. “In the morning we installed the Rev. Ryan D. Newman as cathedral dean, and in the afternoon, we ordained four new deacons.

“That’s equally historic for this emerging diocese,” he said. “It’s a diaconate ordination in a place we haven’t had for 10 years, since the schism. And it’s historic that two of the deacons have come from our established school for deacons. This is the first group that has come through our own local process, and we’re delighted about that.”

Episcopalians welcomed the Very Rev. Ryan Newman as the first dean of St. James Cathedral in Fresno in a decade on Dec. 1. Photo: Jeff March/Diocese of San Joaquin

In 2007, the former San Joaquin Diocese broke away from the Episcopal Church, over disagreements about the ordination of women and LGBTQ people and same-gender blessings. Calling itself the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, the breakaway group attempted to keep the property, including the Fresno cathedral.

Those who chose to remain in the Episcopal Church, reconstituted the diocese. A series of court battles ensued, and according to Rice, all but one property has been returned to the Episcopal Church.

Newman, a Southern California native, said he felt an immediate connection to the passion and energy of Rice, especially “when he told me that the diocese needs someone who’s not afraid to get messy and who likes to rebuild things.”

He was the rector and headmaster of All Saints Church and School in Kaap’a, Kaua’i, in the Diocese of Hawaii, and had no thoughts of moving on – until San Joaquin Canon to the Ordinary Anna Carmichael called him.

“I was in a Seattle airport, waiting for a flight,” Newman recalled. “I was on my walk to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Ironically, I was preparing to walk the way of St. James. I thought my Camino would end in Spain. Little did I know the journey would take me to St. James in Fresno.”

Newman, 42, hails from South Orange County in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and attended St. Margaret’s School in San Juan Capistrano. Ordained a priest in 2003, he served for 11 years as chaplain and director of operations at Campbell Hall a 1,000-student Episcopal school in North Hollywood, before moving to All Saints, Kaua’i, a historic church he helped to regenerate.

Now, he hopes to parlay that experience to St. James Cathedral.

“Bishop Rice wants to make it a place where it’s not just about worship on Sundays but about what happens between Sundays, about how we become the people of God and church in the world. It’s about getting out there and doing outreach and advocacy and community,” Newman told ENS.

Newman also dreams of transforming the cathedral into a center for the arts and education and an “embodiment of this resurrection in the diocese.”

‘Moments of resurrection with each passing day’

Rice counts the Dec. 1 ordinations among “the moments of resurrection” the diocese experiences daily.

“We started a school for deacons about three years ago, and that was a response to changing styles of formation and training,” he said. “We recognized the need for local formation and training in addition to those aspirants who choose to go to the Church Divinity School of the Pacific and other places.

“This is the first group that have come through our own local process, and we’re delighted about that.”

The Rev. Greg Masztal was ordained Dec. 1 and said becoming a deacon caught him by surprise.  “I joined the church 5 ½ years ago and I didn’t see this happening …  but I am willing to see where I am led,” he told ENS recently.

Currently, the full-time auditor serves the community of St. Paul’s, Modesto. “They’ve gone through a lot over the years, and now it’s a growing community,” he said. “I hope to be a part of that and to encourage people, which is part of a deacon’s call.”

Masztal, 60, added: “It’s been a long journey. I feel like I’m already doing it. And these ordinations are part of a great celebration that is happening.”

Rice agreed. “We are a diocese that continues to experience moments of resurrection with each passing day.”

Concluding the court battles represents a significant shift in the diocesan landscape, which will “be different from most dioceses,” he said.

“We have concluded all of our litigations with the exception of one, a singular property, St. Columba’s in Fresno,” Rice said. “That case has been brought to the court and we’re waiting to hear the results of that decision. We are finished after that.”

Additionally, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church has forgiven $6.8 million in loans to the diocese “and that is a gift for which we continue to be exceedingly grateful,” Rice said. “It allows us to continue and to move and emerge in ways we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”

San Joaquin Bishop David Rice ordains deacons for the first time in a decade at St. James Cathedral. From left, the Revs. Marilee Muncey, Greg Masztal, Amy Larsen and Terrance Goodpasture. Photo: Jeff March/Diocese of San Joaquin

AWE, holy candor, changing the landscape

Despite challenges, the San Joaquin diocese is “in good heart” and Rice sees a seismic shift in the landscape.

There are numerous inquiries from across the church and around the country to fill upcoming vacancies, from those wanting to experience the kind of “liturgical laboratory” represented by the rebuilding efforts.

Increasingly new relationships are being forged, from the voices of the homeless to nonprofit organizations, ecumenical partners and academic institutions.

There are other shifts: “Rather than talking about average Sunday attendance, we are talking about AWE – average weekly engagement, an acronym coined by Canon to the Ordinary Ann Carmichael,” he said.

“It is a commentary on how we emerge and continue to emerge and the larger liturgical work of people has everything to do with those with whom we spend time and how we serve them each day.”

Rice cited as an example the number of feeding ministries in the diocese’s 21 worship communities. “What’s important about that is, the ministries have come about because our communities have engaged in conversations with people who live where they live, and they’ve heard expressions of we don’t have food.”

There is HUB – Helping Urban Cyclists – which serves homeless residents by providing bicycles for transportation. There is a warming center for the homeless of Visalia. And there is a diocesan immigration task force “engaged in really substantive conversations about refugees and our sisters and brothers who have that status and how we can be of assistance and a voice where sometimes they are voiceless.”

“We believe the church has a clear mandate to be involved wherever people are marginalized or typically invisible,” Rice said.

The diocese still “travels light,” with minimal staff, and there are challenges. “We are endeavoring to address the things we know don’t work,” Rice added. “We use holy candor all the time. We are looking for builders who are building relationships, who are entrepreneurial, who are not risk-averse. It’s hard work, given the landscape.”

Newman said that passion and energy and vision drew him back to California, because Rice “is changing the metrics about vitality.

“It’s not just about how many butts in the pews, but how you’re engaging community in meaningful and tangible ways,” Newman said. “It’s the only way that this diocese and the individual congregations will succeed long-term and have sustainability.”

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

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Episcopal Migration Ministries, 8 other agencies awarded new contracts to resettle refugees

Mon, 12/03/2018 - 1:05pm

[Episcopal News Service] The State Department, despite the Trump administration’s decision to drastically reduce the number of refugees allowed to be resettled in the United States, has renewed contracts with all nine agencies that long have facilitated resettlements for the government, including Episcopal Migration Ministries, or EMM.

The decision, communicated to the agencies on Nov. 30, allows them to continue their resettlement activities for another year, though at a greatly diminished capacity than under the Obama administration.

“We are thankful we will continue to resettle refugees in the coming year,“ the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church, said Dec. 3 in a press release announcing the State Department’s decision. “We still face the challenge of transitioning to a much smaller resettlement program. This at a time when there are more than 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are children. With everyone’s support, we will continue to welcome refugees to a place of safety and welcome.”

Syrian refugee Baraa Haj Khalaf, left, kisses her father, Khaled, as her mother, Fattoum, cries after arriving at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, in February 2017. Photo: Reuters

Robertson also invited Episcopalians to support this ministry financially by making a donation at episcopalmigrationministries.org/give or texting “EMM” to 41444.

The State Department announced Sept. 17 that it would lower the ceiling to only 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. The actual number of refugees to be welcomed into the United States could be much lower.

EMM has resettled more than 90,000 refugees since the 1980s, providing a range of services for these families upon their arrival in the United States, including English language and cultural orientation classes, employment services, school enrollment and initial assistance with housing and transportation.

“We resettle refugees to reunite families, to save the lives of people with severe medical conditions and to protect those fleeing religious persecution, among other protection needs. As a church, we continue to advocate for higher refugee admissions numbers and for the U.S. to restore its global leadership in refugee protection and resettlement,” said Lacy Broemel, refugee and immigration adviser with Episcopal Church’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations.

The State Department’s final-hour announcement of its contract renewals – just a month before the current contracts expire – was greeted by church leaders as a positive short-term development after a period of tense uncertainty, but the renewals don’t alleviate long-term concerns about the future of the government’s resettlement program.

“We remain deeply concerned that the Administration continues to dismantle the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program – a program that has been in place for decades with bipartisan – and broad public – support,” Broemel said by email. “By so drastically reducing the number of refugees who will be admitted to the U.S. each year, resettlement agencies will not be able to serve as many vulnerable people, and many communities around the country will no longer be able to carry out the life-giving work of refugee resettlement ministry.”

EMM once oversaw 31 resettlement affiliates in 26 dioceses, but that number has dwindled this year to 14 affiliates in 12 dioceses. The scope of EMM’s resettlement efforts in the coming year wasn’t immediately clear now that its contract has been renewed for the calendar year.

The agency has received strong churchwide support. Executive Council passed a resolution in October commending EMM, “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.”

Trinity Episcopal Church and Igelsia Episcopal de la Trinidad of Los Angeles pose with signs to show their support for immigrants and refugees. Their signs read “Stand with Refugees. #GreaterAs1.” Photo: Trinity Episcopal Church via Facebook

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry issued a statement of disappointment in September after the government announced the new cap on resettlements.

“Our hearts and our prayers are with those thousands of refugees who, due to this decision, will not be able to find new life in the United States,” Curry said. “This decision by the government does not reflect the care and compassion of Americans who welcome refugees in their communities every day. Our faith calls us to love God and love our neighbor, so we stand ready to help all those we can in any way we can.”

– 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 Departamento de Estado renueva el contrato con el Ministerio Episcopal de Migración

Mon, 12/03/2018 - 10:40am
El 30 de noviembre de 2018, la Oficina de Población, Refugiados y Migración del Departamento de Estado anunció que al Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, junto con las otras ocho agencias responsables del reasentamiento de refugiados en Estados Unidos, le ha sido otorgado un contrato para participar en el Programa de Recepción y Colocación para el año fiscal 2019.

“Nos congratulamos de seguir reasentando refugiados en el próximo año”, apuntó el Rdo. Charles K. Robertson, canónigo del Obispo Primado para el Ministerio Fuera de la Iglesia Episcopal. “Aún encaramos el reto de la transición a un programa de reasentamiento mucho más pequeño. Esto sucede en un momento en el que hay más de 25,4 millones de refugiados, más de la mitad de los cuales son niños. Con el apoyo de todos, seguiremos recibiendo a refugiados en un lugar de seguridad y acogida. Únase a nosotros en apoyar este ministerio de toda la Iglesia  mediante una donación a episcopalmigrationministries.org/give o envíe un texto a ‘EMM’ para 41444. Gracias, de antemano, por donaciones que significan tanto”.

Desde la década del 80 [del pasado siglo], el Ministerio Episcopal de Migración ha reasentado más de 90.000 refugiados a través de una red de asociados, voluntarios y colaboradores locales. El Ministerio Episcopal de Migración funciona a través de una red de 14 oficinas asociadas para ayudar con vivienda, adiestramiento laboral, servicios de idiomas, servicios médicos y mucho más.

Tal como nos invita la icónica imagen de la Diócesis de Ohio Sur en 1938: “En el nombre de estos refugiados, ayuda a todos los refugiados”, así en esta temporada de solidaridad, y en el nombre de los refugiados más santos, María, José y el Señor Jesús, ayuda hoy a todos los refugiados. Sírvase hacer una donación en apoyo a nuestra obra constante y vivificadora.

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El Obispo Primado rinde tributo al presidente George Herbert Walker Bush

Mon, 12/03/2018 - 8:06am

La siguiente declaración del obispo primado de la Iglesia Episcopal Michael Curry es un tributo al presidente George Herbert Walker Bush.

Con una nación agradecida, y muchas personas de todo el mundo, nosotros los de la Iglesia Episcopal le damos gracias a Dios, fuente de vida y amor, por la vida, y el testimonio público y privado, del presidente George Herbert Walker Bush.

A través de su perdurable dedicación al servicio público y de su incondicional devoción a su familia, él vivió el camino de Jesús a lo largo de una vida moldeada en la fe, la esperanza y, sobre todo, en el amor. Mediante su inquebrantable servicio a nuestro país y a la comunidad humana en todo el planeta, él encarnó los más nobles ideales de su fe y de su patria.

El presidente Bush será un perenne recordatorio de que virtudes tales como la generosidad, la amabilidad y la bondad están entre las cosas que realmente perduran, y que trazan el camino de nuestra existencia como la familia humana de Dios.

En él hemos contemplado un alma grande, que nos ha recordado la esperanza, por la gracia de Dios, de poder vivir de igual manera.

Que su alma y las almas de todos los difuntos descansen en paz y resuciten en gloria. Amén.

Obispo primado Michael Curry
Iglesia Episcopal

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Anglican leaders issue message on 30th World Aids Day

Fri, 11/30/2018 - 3:42pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] World AIDS Day will be marked Dec. 1, and Anglicans are joining with Christians from other churches to promote HIV testing. This year, the Anglican Communion Office is working alongside the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance to mark the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day by encouraging everyone to get tested and know their HIV status.

Read the full article here.

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Way of Love’s seven practices inspire variety of Advent resources for Episcopalians

Fri, 11/30/2018 - 1:32pm

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians have spent the past five months taking up the Way of Love’s seven practices, with help from a wide range of liturgical and devotional tools from all corners of the Episcopal Church, and the church is encouraging all to make a special effort to embrace this rule of life during Advent.

Members of All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills, California, light the Advent wreath during a 2017 service. Photo: Colleen Dodson-Baker/All Saints

The church has released Journeying the Way of Love, featuring both a four-week Advent curriculum and an Advent calendar. Both are tied to the readings and themes from the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke.

A rule of life is a set of simple spiritual practices intended to focus believers on their faith journeys and provide support along the way. The Way of Love framework is built around seven practices, which for the Advent curriculum are scheduled on specific days of the week: worship (Sunday), go (Monday), learn (Tuesday), pray (Wednesday), bless (Thursday), turn (Friday) and rest (Saturday). The Advent calendar follows a similar pattern.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry unveiled the Way of Love in July at the 79th General Convention.

“I want to ask not only you, but every Episcopalian, to make a commitment to throw yourself into the hands of Jesus, and then live life out of that,” Curry said in his sermon during the opening Eucharist at General Convention. “These tools may help you.”

Since then, the church has joined with numerous affiliated organizations to develop and promote additional resources to help people bring Jesus to the center of the lives. Some of those have been adapted for Advent, and Episcopalians are participating in other Advent initiatives in the spirit of the Way of Love.

One prominent example is AdventWord, billed as a “global Advent calendar” that is populated each day by participants’ social media posts prompted by the day’s word and hashtag. AdventWord also will send daily emails during Advent with reflections on the days’ words. The signup is here.

The kickoff word on Dec. 2, the first Sunday of Advent, is “Journey.” Curry has offered his own reflection for the campaign, but to read it you’ll have to wait until Dec. 25, when the AdventWord is “Celebrate.”

The Episcopal Church is promoting additional resources for Advent:

Church leaders expect to use the Way of Love as the primary framework for future seasonal resources, though innovations on these themes have transcended the liturgical calendar and inspired activity at the diocesan and congregational levels.

The Diocese of Washington, for example, has developed a Way of Love lectionary that congregations can use to introduce and reflect on the seven practices over an eight-week cycle. The diocese also has produced daily devotionals and a small group prayer guide based on the Way of Love, and Bishop Mariann Budde speaks about the seven practices in a new podcast called “Experiencing Jesus.”

The Diocese of Central Pennsylvania is promoting a Way of Love retreat on Dec. 14 and 15, part of the “Learning Weekend” series organized by the Stevenson School for Ministry. The agenda includes workshops intended to help clergy and lay leaders to incorporate the Way of Love in their congregations’ parish life.

“I hope that in this next year we can continue to strengthen our efforts at collaborating with each other for God’s mission,” Central Pennsylvania Bishop Audrey Scanlan says in an online introduction to the diocese’s Way of Love resources. “That we will continue to stretch ourselves and try on new and creative ways of being Church by living in the Way of Love as our Way of Life.”

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

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Representing the Presiding Bishop, Episcopalians advocate for the environment at COP24

Fri, 11/30/2018 - 11:53am

[Episcopal News Service] Wildfires. Hurricanes. Four straight record-setting years of increasing temperatures. Ocean acidification. Sea-level rise. Species loss. Drought. All are made worse by climate change, fueling humanitarian crises as people are forced to flee their homes because of natural disaster or changes in their environment.

“Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities,” warns the 1,656-page National Climate Assessment released Nov. 23 by the Trump administration.

On Sunday, Dec. 2, representatives from United Nations member states, including government, nonprofit and faith-based organizations, will meet in Katowice, Poland, for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP24, to hammer out a framework for implementing the Paris Agreement, which was reached in 2015, at the 21st conference.

“Not only have all the nations of the world signed the Paris Agreement, I have seen the great religions of the world and the indigenous spiritual traditions also come together to seek the healing of the planet,” said California Bishop Marc Andrus in an email to Episcopal News Service.

“During Lambeth 2008 I listened with astonishment as bishops from India, West Africa, Australia, the United States and Sudan talk for just short of two hours about the environmental degradation and climate change effects that were already plaguing the dioceses they served,” he said. “Only in the last 10 minutes of the two hours allotted for conversation on two of the major issues that have been facing our church for decades did this group of bishops turn their attention to the second issue, so consumed were they by the present danger of climate change.”

Andrus will lead an eight-member delegation representing Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the Dec. 2-14 conference in Poland. This is the fourth Episcopal delegation to attend the annual conference on climate change. The Episcopal Church began attending the conference in 2015 in France, where the Paris Agreement was reached.

In Paris, the Episcopal delegation made a spiritual case for climate action. At that conference, member countries, including the United States, reached a landmark agreement to set voluntary goals aimed at keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, which scientists predicted would be necessary to prevent a spiraling catastrophe of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and related weather extremes.

Greenpeace stages a protest outside the UN Climate Change Conference 2016 (COP22) in Marrakech, Morocco, Nov. 18, 2016. Photo: Reuters

In Morocco in 2017, nations reaffirmed their commitment to cut carbon emissions. In Germany, in 2018, the process was thrown into doubt by President Donald Trump’s pledge to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement.

The United States is the world’s largest economy and its second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere and make the planet warmer.

It was in June 2017, as part of his “American First” strategy, that Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the international agreement, saying it undermines the economy and places the United States at a disadvantage.

Since then, the We Are Still In movement has taken root, with more than 200 faith organizations signing on, including Episcopal churches.

Still, the world is far from meeting the Paris Agreement’s target, which would require reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels. In fact, emissions continue to rise.

The conference in Poland is intended “to finalize the rulebook for how the Paris Agreement will work. … That’s important because if you don’t have rules, it falls apart at this level of bureaucracy,” said Lynnaia Main, the Episcopal Church’s representative to the United Nations.

Scientists agree that climate change is a global threat. The World Meteorological Organization warns that, given current trends, warming could reach between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which informs U.N. policy, issued a similarly dire report.

“I have quoted many times in the past decade something that was said by the former archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams: ‘It takes a global body to deal with global problems.’ An example of how this is true is the increasing crisis of environmental refugees,” Andrus said.

“Have you wondered what was the engine that drove the closely watched caravan out of Central America? According to an Oct. 30, 2018, Guardian article, in addition to violence, organized crime and systematic corruption, ‘climate change in the region is exacerbating – and sometimes causing – a miasma of other problems, including crop failures and poverty.’ The caravan comes mainly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, it crosses Mexico and seeks asylum in the United States. … The struggle of the people in the caravan is transnational, and I would say cannot be ‘solved’ by any one country. We must work together for the good of all,” Andrus said.

Environmental justice is one of the church’s three main priorities, along with racial reconciliation and evangelism. Over the years, General Convention has passed numerous resolutions on the issue, whether supporting federal climate action or pledging to mitigating the church’s own impact on the environment.

The church’s 79th General Convention met in July in Austin, Texas, and passed 19 environmental resolutions, including support for a national carbon tax, carbon offsets for church-related travel, ocean health and Episcopalians’ continued participation in the Paris Agreement.

In 2016, the Episcopal Church was granted U.N. observer status, which allows members of the delegation to brief U.N. representatives on the Episcopal Church’s General Convention climate resolutions and to attend meetings in the official zone.

“The continuity fostered by our COP delegations’ attendance at the annual U.N. Climate Change Conferences has a multiplier effect for our broader Episcopal and Anglican influence at the United Nations,” said Main in a press release. “Our actions in Katowice will strengthen a broader base of U.N. ministry that includes eradicating poverty through the Sustainable Development Goals, supporting migrants and refugees, defending indigenous peoples, mainstreaming gender and protecting rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

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

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Con Cuba: fortalecer los lazos de familia y provocar una transformación

Fri, 11/30/2018 - 9:40am

La Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba celebró su Sínodo General en la Habana del 21 al 23 de febrero de 2014 y adoptó un plan estratégico de tres años. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service] Ahora que la Diócesis de Cuba está oficialmente de vuelta al redil de la Iglesia Episcopal, la obispa de Cuba, Griselda Delgado del Carpio  tiene grandes ilusiones de fortalecer los lazos de familia y de provocar una transformación.

Para empezar, Delgado quiere “que todo el mundo sepa lo feliz que estoy de estar de regreso a la familia” y espera extender a otras diócesis y congregaciones los puentes que ella ha tendido con la Diócesis de la Florida a lo largo de las últimas tres décadas.

“Durante 30 años, hemos aprendido a amarnos mutuamente, a trabajar juntos, a respetarnos y a compartir los dones que cada comunidad tiene que ofrecer a la otra”, dijo ella en una reciente entrevista telefónica con Episcopal News Service a través de un intérprete.

“Para nosotros, una asociación significa que dos comunidades trabajen juntas, que reciban y den y evalúen mutuamente la trayectoria en ese proceso, y que valoren mutuamente sus dones”.

Luego de una separación de 52 años, la 79ª. Convención General [que sesionó] del 5 al 13 de julio en Austin, Texas, aprobó la reunificación con la Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba.

La Resolución A238 llama a “a las diócesis, congregaciones y miembros de la Iglesia Episcopal  a familiarizarse con los ministerios de la Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba  y a trabajar en armonía y compañerismo por la evangelización, la comprensión mutua y la plena expresión de la misión de Dios, así como a contemplar las maneras de estar en colaboración.

La obispa Griselda – como la llaman afectuosamente – espera vivir más plena y profundamente en el espíritu de la resolución, creando asociaciones, al tiempo que profundizando las relaciones de la Diócesis de Cuba con sus [diócesis] hermanas de EE.UU. Ella aspira a provocar una transformación al centrarse en la creación de comunidades a través de la reedificación de iglesias, y espera proporcionarle pensiones al clero diocesano.

La Diócesis de Cuba está compuesta de 46 congregaciones y cinco misiones pequeñas que están transformándose y creciendo y comenzando a desarrollarse”, afirmó ella. Cada una enfrenta diferentes retos, pero “cada uno puede resolverse individualmente”, subrayó Delgado con confianza.

“Lo principal es poder seguir llevando la Buena Nueva al pueblo”, dijo ella “con la herramienta evangelizadora del amor y de conocer a Jesús.

“Tenemos mucho que aprender  unos de otros”, añadió. “Queremos hacer todo eso mientras reafirmamos la identidad del pueblo de Cuba. Esto es lo que los cubanos tienen que dar al mundo: su propia experiencia y trayectoria de fe en la Iglesia”.

Evangelización: agua potable, comidas calientes, huertos

Chip Weismiller regresó recientemente de ayudar a instalar un sistema de filtrado de agua en la iglesia episcopal de Santa Cruz del Norte  cerca de La Habana, junto con otros miembros de la iglesia de San Lucas [St. Luke’s Church] en Darien, Connecticut, y de la iglesia de Cristo [Christ Church] en Bronxville, Nueva York.

Members of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Darien, Connecticut, and Christ Church, Bronxville, New York, join their Cuban counterparts to help assemble and install water filtration systems at Santa Cruz del Norte Church. Photo: Stuart Weismiller

Eso significa agua pura, no sólo para la iglesia, sino para toda la comunidad. “Esperan que hasta 100 personas al día vengan en busca de agua potable”, explicó él.

Es un modelo para ministerios de arrancada en zonas con infraestructura ruinosa y donde, durante varias generaciones, la sociedad no ha respaldado a la Iglesia, según Pat Cage, que ayudó a crear Amigos de la Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba, a petición de Delgado.

La organización de voluntarios con sede en EE.UU. se fundó para asistir a Delgado y a la Diócesis de Cuba a “llevar a cabo su visión transformadora de crear una Iglesia que, unida en la diversidad, celebra, predica, enseña, sirve y comparte el amor de Dios”, según Cage.

“Una manera en que la obispa Griselda está tratando de reconstruir la comunidad eclesial es sirviendo a las necesidades básicas de las personas”, afirmó Cage, miembro de San Lucas en Darien, quien también ha visitado Cuba.

La Rda. Yamily Bass-Choate, vicaria de la Iglesia Memorial de San Andrés, en Yonkers, Nueva York, dijo que su congregación, junto con miembros de la iglesia de Cristo, en Bronxville, se han asociado con la Diócesis de Cuba, y llevan grupos de adolescentes a Cuba para aprender de la cultura [del país] y de su gente y ayudar con el establecimiento de sistemas de purificación de agua.

“Hemos instalado alrededor de 26 sistemas de filtrado de agua desde que comenzamos hace varios años y también hemos adiestrado a personas allí que lo hagan”, le dijo Bass-Choate a ENS.

“La obispa Griselda tiene una estupenda visión para la diócesis”, señaló Michael Pollack, miembro de la iglesia de Cristo que recientemente regresó de su octava visita a Cuba para ayudar con los sistemas de agua.

Él sigue volviendo porque “Cuba es un lugar especial. La gente es maravillosamente cálida. Su alegría de vivir y su bondad son palpables. Era evidente, justo ahí. Hay un sentido real de que ‘estamos en esto juntos y que debemos ayudarnos mutuamente’”, afirmó él.

La visión de Delgado se originó durante su ministerio como sacerdote en la iglesia de Santa María Virgen en Itabo, la congregación que ella atendió durante 25 años antes de ser elegida obispa.

La asociación con iglesias en la Diócesis de Florida y la instalación de sistemas de filtrado de agua provocó la transformación.

“En su iglesia en Itabo, la gente venía hasta de 100 kilómetros de distancia en caballos y carretones a buscar agua potable”, contó Cage. “Puedes imaginar el impacto que tiene el agua potable en la comunidad desde el punto de vista de la salud y el bienestar; las enfermedades se han reducido significativamente”.

La iglesia de Santa María Virgen, localizada en una zona rural a unos 370 kilómetros de La Habana, tiene ahora un huerto donde cultivan frijoles, maíz y café, y el plan es llegar a añadirle, con el tiempo, pollos y cerdos. “Los productos agrícolas [provenientes del huerto] se le venden a la comunidad a un precio muy módico. Al final de cada estación, se le reparten las semillas a la comunidad”, dijo Cage.

Como resultado, los huertos están prosperando en toda la comunidad de Itabo y también la asistencia a la iglesia. “Se trata de responder a las necesidades, mostrar compasión y amor y llevar la iglesia a la comunidad”, recalcó Cage.

Además, Delgado fue capaz de apuntalar en Itabo el edifico de la iglesia que estaba inestable y de levantar un albergue estilo dormitorio para visitantes, explicó Pollack. Un generador de biogás utiliza los desperdicios de los cerdos para hacer gas para cocinar, y el desarrollo de los huertos fue de vital importancia, afirmó Pollack “porque me explicaron que, antes, los alimentos tenían que importarse”.

Y agregó, “la visión de la obispa Griselda es sostenible. No hay manera de negar lo que ella ha llevado a cabo, dadas las circunstancias en Cuba y la situación histórica”.

Cage dijo que la organización Amigos de la Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba  espera coordinar relaciones semejantes entre otras iglesias estadounidenses y cubanas.

Asociaciones: Un ministerio transformador y de relación

Comiendo juntos, adorando juntos y visitando a los enfermos en sus hogares y orando por ellos resultó tan convincente para Stuart Weismiller como ver a una joven darle de beber las primeras gotas de agua pura a su marido, Chip, durante el viaje de ambos del 6 al 13 de noviembre de 2018.

Miembros de la iglesia de San Lucas, en Darien, Connecticut, y de la iglesia de Cristo, en Bronxville, Nueva York, se unieron a sus homólogos cubanos en comidas, cultos y visitas pastorales para orar por los enfermos en sus casas, entablando relaciones y fortaleciendo los lazos familiares. Foto de Stuart Weismiller.

Fue el segundo viaje a Santa Cruz del Norte de la pareja, miembros de la iglesia de San Lucas, en Darien, quienes lo consideran evangelización pura, no un ministerio de “proyecto”. “Queremos tener una relación con las personas. Es muy importante para nosotros participar en todas partes de los servicios de culto. Algunos miembros de nuestro grupo leen lecciones [en los oficios]. Comemos juntos. Nos abrazamos”, cuenta Chip Weismiller.

Él dijo que la visión de Delgado es sostenible y transformadora porque “una de las formas en que uno atrae gente a la iglesia es proporcionando un ambiente amoroso, de aceptación, y antes de que prediques nada, funcionas con hechos, y con acciones”.

Roger Martin, otro de los miembros de San Lucas en el viaje, se mostró de acuerdo. La iglesia de Delgado, dijo él “es un modelo de lo que puede hacerse”.

Según Martin, la asociación entre San Lucas y la iglesia de Santa Cruz del Norte ha crecido y ha prosperado. La adición de una comida dominical ha comenzado a edificar la comunidad, y la donación de un equipo de béisbol le ha permitido al rector, el Rdo. Frank Fernández Triana, organizar equipos de jóvenes y también llevarlos a la iglesia.

“Lo maravilloso de Cuba es que la gente que asiste a las iglesias episcopales son jóvenes. Sus padres puede que no vengan a la iglesia, pero ellos sí”, dijo Martin. Otras oportunidades siguen presentándose. “Debido a los huracanes [específicamente Irma], el techo de la iglesia está inestable”, apuntó Martin, que fue decano adjunto de la Escuela de Teología de Harvard de 1980 a 1986. “Nuestro plan es ayudarles a reconstruir el techo de la iglesia y pintarlo y repararlo. Mientras avanzamos, va a haber muchísimas cosas que hacer para mejorar la iglesia”.

Y añadió, “yo enseñaba misión en Harvard. No veo esto como una misión. Veo esto como trabajar con personas que pueden enseñarnos muchísimo acerca de la Iglesia”.

Grades desafíos, mayores sueños: descanso y pensiones para el clero

La visión de Delgado también incluye ayuda y apoyo para los clérigos cubanos que “no tienen pensiones del Estado o categoría equivalente de la seguridad social porque su servicio no se reconoce como empleo”, dijo la ex obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori, que actualmente es obispa auxiliar de la Diócesis de San Diego.

“En la Convención General de este verano, durante nuestra conversación sobre Cuba en la Cámara de Obispos, yo reté a la Cámara a pedirles a sus feligreses que donaran 0,50¢ para ayudar a las pensiones del clero cubano”, dijo Jefferts Schori.

“La cantidad total que se necesita es de unos $800.000, y ese monto es aproximadamente 0,50¢ por cada episcopal”, dijo ella en un email reciente a ENS. “Varias [diócesis] ya han respondido, y algunas han enviado más que eso. El Tesorero [de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera] ha establecido un fondo dedicado a recibir donaciones, y cualquier funcionario diocesano de finanzas puede pedirle  detalles a Kurt Barnes”.

Ella dijo que el clero cubano jubilado con frecuencia “vive en penuria, dependiendo de miembros de la familia o de sus propios magros ahorros para sostenerse. Algunos clérigos en Cuba, que prestaron servicios allí antes de que esa diócesis se quedara a la deriva en 1965, si reciben pequeñas pensiones del CPG [el Grupo de Pensiones de la Iglesia], pero hasta hace pocos años ha sido muy difícil enviar esos fondos limitados desde EE.UU.”.

Varias diócesis, entre ellas San Diego, Arkansas, Luisiana, Nueva York, Vermont y Utah, han respondido, haciendo llamados a sus congregaciones a ayudar en este empeño. Sin embargo, N. Kurt Barnes, el Tesorero de la Iglesia Episcopal, rehusó hacer comentarios  sobre el monto de lo recaudado hasta ahora.

“Esto sólo ha comenzado recientemente; y no creo que podamos proporcionar totales actualizados”, dijo él a ENS en un email. “No obstante, hemos abierto una cuenta de custodia para recibir y guardar los fondos”.

Jefferts Schori añadió que la Iglesia de EE.UU. tiene mucho que aprender de su hermana cubana.

“Ellos son muy emprendedores y están apasionadamente dedicados a ayudar a sus prójimos”, le dijo en un email a ENS. Además, Delgado “ha ayudado a producir un plan de desarrollo para la diócesis que está empezando a dar abundante fruto —en lo que respecta a formación, responsabilidad y pastoralmente. Yo animaría a cualquiera que esté interesado en visitar, aprender más y entablar una relación de mutualidad a largo plazo.

“Nuestros hermanos y hermanas en Cristo en Cuba tienen mucho que mostrar y enseñar y ofrecer”, dijo Jefferts Schori. “Lo que no tienen son muchos dólares. Piensen en esto como algo semejante a la colecta de Pablo para los pobres de Jerusalén. Hemos recibido de vuelta a la Diócesis de Cuba en la Iglesia Episcopal : esta es una manera de salvar el abismo entre EE.UU. y Cuba”.

– La Rda Pat McCaughan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service.

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