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Diocese of Virginia bishop to retire in November

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 10:56am

Editor’s note: Diocese of Virginia Bishop Shannon S. Johnston announced Aug. 3 that he will resign his office in three months.

The announcement appears to culminate a process that began in October 2017 when he announced plans to seek a bishop suffragan after the retirement of the Rt. Rev. Ted Gulick, assistant bishop. Then on May 24, Johnston announced an end to the search, citing “serious questions raised by members of the diocesan staff having to do with the leadership and the culture among diocesan staff,” and taking “full responsibility for this situation.” Johnston also said that he had begun to look more seriously about retiring earlier than he had originally planned, having reached age 60 and with 30 years of service in the Episcopal Church.

Diocese of Virginia Bishop Shannon S. Johnston Has announced he will resign Nov. 3. Photo: Diocese of Virginia via Facebook

Dear Diocesan Family,

After many months of intense prayer and reflection, and in close consultation with the presiding bishop and our Standing Committee, I am formally announcing that I have decided to resign my office and ministry as Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia effective November 3, 2018, prior to the adjournment of our annual convention. I will then serve the diocese in a consulting capacity to facilitate the transition to new leadership. I will fully retire effective July 1, 2019, having served over twelve years as a bishop in this diocese.

First of all, I want to say in all honesty that being the XIII Bishop of Virginia has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life. I love this diocese with all my heart. I have also had extraordinary opportunities in places across the globe. I have learned much about the “big things” as well as about how deeply meaningful the so-called small things can be. After all these years of ministry serving as your bishop, there is something surreal about letting go. I have no idea what will come next, except that I shall take an extended period of rest, which will include times for spiritual retreat and discernment.  I know that I shall miss my week-to-week ministry, especially spending time with our clergy and interacting with parishioners, but, actually, I am quite excited to have things so open-ended! Ellen and I shall remain in Richmond, where we very happily bought a home two years ago. We look forward to having more time to spend with friends as well as taking opportunities to travel. I also want to make up for a lot of lost time with my family in Alabama and Georgia.

I am proud of the work and accomplishments that we have achieved together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Several of these accomplishments include:

  • the successful resolution of the unprecedented lawsuit returning schismatically-claimed property for the mission of the Episcopal Church;
  • the historic success of the capital campaign for our camps program at Shrine Mont;
  • embracing and fully including LGBT Christians in our ordination process and in the rite of Christian marriage;
  • our recovery of the church’s voice for faith and advocacy in the “public square,” raised in our internationally-noted presence at the Charlottesville rally opposing the white supremacy demonstrations, as we had already opened a critical dialogue on the sin and experience of racism;
  • the newly re-drawn diocesan regions that better reflect-and thus will better serve-the demographics and growth of today’s Commonwealth of Virginia;
  • and (lastly but surely not least) our diocese is growing again, and our unity, confidence, and morale are high.

There is so much more that could be noted. I certainly do not claim or imply that “I” did all this, but we did, and I am rightly proud of this era I have shared with you in the life of the Diocese of Virginia.

My reasons for reaching this decision that a change of leadership is now good and wise begin with the fact that I feel that I have given my all. Quite simply, “the time” has come. I truly believe that I have done all that I can to accomplish what I feel I was called here to do. And so, I am convinced that it is now time for new vision and new energy for the church in our diocese.

Equally important as a factor in my decision is that my wife Ellen and I are looking toward sharing an active and full life in retirement years. As I reach the age of sixty (after serving the church for over thirty years), and being in strong health, I have confidently chosen to claim this season of life for the fuller nurture of our personal life.  Someone else can assume my responsibilities as bishop of Virginia, but no one else can love Ellen as I do.

As I write this letter I realize with certainty that my decision is for the best. While I am aware that there is some speculation about my retirement, please know that this letter conveys what is in fact my own personal truth about my decision to resign. You should also know that it is in consultation with my closest friends, colleagues, and advisors that Ellen and I agree that it is time for me to move on, in God’s grace for us and for the Diocese of Virginia. Be assured that the presiding bishop’s office will be in communication with our diocesan leadership regarding the next steps and the particulars for episcopal leadership in Virginia going forward.

I look upon my ministry as bishop among you in terms of having shared milestone moments of God moving decisively in the lives of Virginia Episcopalians. We have grown together as disciples of Jesus Christ. That is what the church is all about. In the end, I am profoundly gratified by what I believe to have been a consequential episcopate.

Faithfully yours,

The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston

XIII Bishop of Virginia


E. Mark Stevenson named canon to the presiding bishop for ministry within the Episcopal Church

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 4:23pm

The Rev. E. Mark Stevenson.

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has appointed the Rev. E. Mark Stevenson as canon to the presiding bishop for ministry within the Episcopal Church, a member of the presiding bishop’s staff.

In this role, Stevenson will support the ministry of the presiding bishop among Episcopalians as a pastoral assistant and strategic and theological advisor. Responsibilities include serving as liaison and representative to bishops within the church and overseeing preparations for meetings of the House of Bishops. Additionally, he will provide support for bishops and Episcopal dioceses in carrying out their ministry and mission as well as preparation for visitations by the presiding bishop. Stevenson will also work closely and collaboratively with the executive officer of the General Convention, the president of the House of Deputies, and the other canons and chief officers on the presiding bishop’s staff, in addition to directing the work of the Formation, Youth, and Young Adult Ministries and Transition Ministries departments.

“I am truly delighted that the Reverend Canon Mark Stevenson has accepted our call to serve as canon for ministry within the Episcopal Church, said Curry. “Canon Mark has a long and proven track record as a canon to bishops, a skilled manager and administrator, and as a wise and generous colleague to many. Above all he is a devout follower of Jesus of Nazareth.”

The presiding bishop notes that Stevenson was selected from an initial field of 35. A screening committee appointed by the presiding bishop reviewed all applications, narrowing the list to four candidates whom they recommended for an interview with Curry.  After concurring with the search committee regarding the four final candidates, the presiding bishop conducted the interviews and later identified Stevenson as his choice for canon for ministry within the Episcopal Church.

“It is a true honor to have been called to this ministry by the presiding bishop,” says Stevenson. “I am excited about the future of the Episcopal Church under his leadership and look forward to serving with a great team as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement continues to teach and preach the transforming power of love of God and love of neighbor.”

Meet the Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson

Stevenson presently serves as the director of Episcopal Migration Ministries, the refugee resettlement program of the Episcopal Church, a position he has held since May 2016.  As director, he leads a dedicated team who execute a national program of refugee resettlement and related ministries in partnership with the U.S. government, affiliated local resettlement programs, and a developing network of communities and ecumenical organizations from across the country.

From 2005 until he joined the presiding bishop’s staff in 2013 as the Episcopal Church domestic poverty missioner, Stevenson served as canon to the ordinary in the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana where his responsibilities included oversight of the bishop’s staff, budget management, coordination of clergy and congregation transitional ministry, and various pastoral and administrative concerns throughout the diocese.   When Hurricane Katrina made landfall just days before Stevenson took his post, the scope of his ministry expanded dramatically to include working closely with then-Bishop Charles Jenkins, as well as local, regional, national and international leaders and groups to put into place the processes for effective relief ministry.   In partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, the diocese instituted an Office of Disaster Response that evolved over the years into Episcopal Community Services of Louisiana, a ministry focused not only on immediate disaster relief but also on the transformation of lives by building a community of care and respect for all human beings.

Before that, Stevenson served as rector of the Church of the Annunciation in New Orleans (Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana) and the Church of the Good Shepherd in Maitland, Florida (Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida).

Stevenson serves on the board of The Living Church Foundation and also served as a member of the Episcopal Relief & Development board. In addition, he served as a deputy to the 2012 General Convention and an alternate at the 2009 General Convention.

Stevenson will begin work as canon to the presiding bishop within the Episcopal Church on Sept. 1. His office will continue to be in New York at the Episcopal Church Center.


Nombran al Rdo. E. Mark Stevenson Canónigo del Obispo Primado para el Ministerio dentro de la Iglesia Episcopal

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 4:22pm

Rdo. Canónigo E. Mark Stevenson

[1 de agosto de 2018] El Obispo presidente y primado Michael Curry ha designado al Rdo. Canónigo E. Mark Stevenson como Canónigo del Obispo Primado para el Ministerio dentro de la Iglesia Episcopal y como tal miembro del personal del Obispo Primado.

En este cargo, Stevenson apoyará el ministerio del Obispo Primado entre los episcopales como asistente pastoral y asesor de teología y estrategia. Entre sus responsabilidades se incluyen servir de enlace y representante ante los obispos de la Iglesia y supervisar los preparativos de las reuniones de la Cámara de los Obispos. Además, brindará apoyo a los obispos y las diócesis episcopales para que lleven a cabo su ministerio y misión y para preparar las visitas del Obispo Primado. Stevenson también colaborará y trabajará muy de cerca con el Director Ejecutivo de la Convención General, la Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados y otros canónigos y directores ejecutivos del personal del Obispo Primado. Amén de dirigir la labor de los departamentos de Formación, ministerios de Jóvenes y Jóvenes Adultos y de Transición.

“Estoy realmente encantado de que el Rdo. Mark Stevenson haya aceptado nuestro llamado a servir como canónigo para el ministerio dentro de la Iglesia Episcopal, dijo Curry”. “El canónigo Mark tiene una larga y reconocida trayectoria como canónigo de obispos, como gestor y administrador competente y como colega inteligente y generoso con todos. Sobre todo, es un devoto seguidor de Jesús de Nazaret”.

El Obispo Primado destaca que Stevenson fue escogido entre un grupo inicial de 35 candidatos. Un comité de selección, nombrado por el Obispo Primado, revisó todas las solicitudes, reduciendo la lista a cuatro candidatos que fueron recomendados para entrevistarse con Curry. Después de coincidir con el comité de búsqueda en los nombres de los cuatro finalistas, el Obispo Primado llevó a cabo las entrevistas y luego identificó a Stevenson como su elección para ser el Canónigo para el Ministerio dentro de la Iglesia Episcopal.

“Es un verdadero honor haber sido llamado a este ministerio por el Obispo Primado”, dijo Stevenson. “Me entusiasma el futuro de la Iglesia Episcopal bajo su liderazgo y espero servir con un gran equipo mientras la rama episcopal del Movimiento de Jesús sigue enseñando y predicando el poder transformador del amor de Dios y el amor al prójimo”.

Conozca al Rdo. canónigo E. Mark Stevenson

En la actualidad, Stevenson es el Director del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, el programa de reasentamiento de refugiados de la Iglesia Episcopal, un cargo que ha ocupado desde mayo de 2016. Como Director dirige un equipo especializado, encargado de llevar a la práctica un programa nacional de reasentamiento de refugiados y otros ministerios afines en sociedad con el gobierno de Estados Unidos, filiales locales de reasentamiento y una red de comunidades y organizaciones ecuménicas en todo el país [que se encuentra] en vías de desarrollo.

Desde el año 2005, hasta que se integró al personal del Obispo Primado en 2013 como Misionero de la Iglesia Episcopal para [combatir] la Pobreza Nacional, Stevenson sirvió como Canónigo del Ordinario en la Diócesis de Luisiana donde sus responsabilidades incluían la supervisión del personal del Obispo, administración del presupuesto, coordinación del clero y el ministerio transicional de la congregación y varios tareas pastorales y administrativas en toda la diócesis. Cuando el huracán Katrina toco tierra, días antes de que Stevenson asumiera su cargo, el alcance de su ministerio se expandió dramáticamente para incluir trabajar estrechamente con el entonces obispo Charles Jenkins, así como con líderes y agrupaciones locales, regionales, nacionales e internacionales, a fin de poner en marcha los procedimientos de un efectivo ministerio de socorro. En asociación con el Fondo Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo, la diócesis estableció una Oficina de Respuesta a Desastres que, con el transcurso de los años, se convirtió en Servicios Comunitarios Episcopales de Luisiana, un ministerio centrado no sólo en prestar ayuda inmediata en desastres, sino también en transformar vidas mediante la creación de comunidades de cuidado y respeto hacia todos los seres humanos

Antes de eso, Stevenson fue rector de la Iglesia de la Anunciación [Annunciation] en Nueva Orleáns (Diócesis Episcopal de Luisiana) y de la Iglesia del Buen Pastor [Good Sheperd] en Maitland, Florida (Diócesis Episcopal de Florida Central).

Stevenson es miembro del Consejo de la Fundación La Iglesia Viviente (The Living Church Foundation) y también fue miembro de la junta directiva del Fondo Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo. Además, fue diputado en la Convención General de 2012 y [diputado] suplente en la Convención General de 2009.

Stevenson comenzará a desempeñarse como Canónigo del Obispo Primado dentro de la Iglesia Episcopal el 1 de septiembre de 2018. Su oficina seguirá estando en el Centro Denominacional de la Iglesia Episcopal en Nueva York.

‘Heartbreaking’ devastation from California wildfires shows strength of church-community ties

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 3:47pm

The Rev. Carren Sheldon took this photo July 26 of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Redding, California, just before she closed the church amid an evacuation of the neighborhood to escape the Carr Fire. Sheldon took 125 years’ worth of church records with her and brought them to diocesan offices in Sacramento to protect them from the fire.

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Carren Sheldon’s evening on July 26 was supposed to go something like this: Evening Prayer, dinner, compline, sleep. But after dinner, she returned to All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Redding, California, to find the neighborhood on the brink of disaster. Heat, wind and “bizarre weather patterns” fueled the sudden advance of a growing wildfire.

“The sky was orange, and the wind was blowing cinders and ash,” Sheldon told Episcopal News Service by phone. “The power was out, and the traffic was gridlocked. It was apparent that it was time to gather the irreplaceable records of the church and flee.”

The church was evacuated along with most of that section of Redding, a town of about 92,000 people in Northern California. The blaze, known as the Carr Fire, has consumed more than 100,000 acres, destroyed more than 1,000 homes and killed at least six people as of Aug. 1. And this fire is just one of more than a dozen major wildfires that California authorities are working to contain and extinguish, from the Oregon state line to San Diego County.

The Carr Fire still is considered only 30 percent contained, but it no longer is threatening the neighborhood around All Saints, enabling Sheldon to return and reopen the church Aug. 1. As interim rector, she has spent the past week checking on parishioners’ safety and providing pastoral care to church members and neighbors, several of whom have lost their homes or are just beginning to assess the damage.

#CarrFire [update] A live evacuation and repopulation map has been developed for residents in the communities affected by evacuation orders. Visit: https://t.co/fJ9NO3Uv9j pic.twitter.com/jo3RW5ivTO

— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) August 1, 2018

Sheldon also has been in regular contact with the Diocese of Northern California’s Disaster Response Team, which is supporting All Saints and the smaller congregations south of Redding that are affected by two large fires near the Mendocino National Forest. Members of those congregations, too, have been displaced or are helping with the emergency response.

As California’s annual wildfire season expands outside of its normal months and the fires grow hotter and larger, the diocese’s Disaster Response Team has had the unwanted but valuable experience of responding to several large fires in recent years. The team’s priority in each case is to reach out to Episcopalians affected by the fires while also establishing local churches as resources for communities dealing with heartbreaking devastation.

“For us it’s how do we help [the churches] to be a community center for so many people who are displaced and traumatized?” said Kati Braak, director of operations, who helps coordinate the Disaster Response Team. “That cup of coffee, the WiFi, a prayer – those things go a long way in helping the surrounding communities find some stability. … These don’t have to be big things.”

The Carr Fire came within three or four blocks of All Saints’ but caused no damage to the church other than dropping a layer of ash on the ground that had to be cleaned up before the building could reopen. The typical Sunday attendance at All Saints’ tops 100, but on July 29, parishioners had to find other options for worship. Some joined St. James Lutheran Church in Redding, and others traveled to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Anderson, California.

Northern California Bishop Barry Beisner, in a video message to All Saints’ on July 28, said he and Episcopalians churchwide are “mindful of the great challenges that you face, the great struggle that you face.”

“We will be praying for you,” Beisner said. “We watch, wait and pray together, and we’re prepared, once the time for watching and waiting is done … we will support you and help you and work together with you for as long as needed. We are with you. Christ is with you. We are one in him.”

Even before last week’s evacuation, the church was serving as a gathering place for Redding residents threatened by the fire. Now that the church has reopened, Sheldon is offering the church, the largest community facility in that part of Redding, as a resource for organizations that need a place to stage relief efforts.

Some of support provided by the diocese has taken the form of money raised through its standing Disaster Relief Fund. A diocesan newsletter reported July 28 that fund paid for $1,500 worth of Target and Safeway gift cards that Sheldon is distributing to those in need. An additional $5,000 will cover other fire-related needs.

Braak said much of the support the diocese provides is guidance on how congregations can partner with other local organizations in matching resources to the needs in the community. The diocese receives similar support from Episcopal Relief & Development, which also distributes financial assistance through emergency grants that the diocese is requesting.

“We’re called by God to care for the whole community,” Braak said.

All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Redding, California, is seen July 30 after the threat of fire had subsided but before the ash had been cleared from in front of the church. Photo: Carren Sheldon

Sheldon feels that calling too. A natural disaster of this scale makes clear that a church is a community, not just a building.

“We are in the very early stages of this,” Sheldon said. With the air still thick with smoke, she and other community leaders are just beginning to assess the needs of the community and determine how to help.

At the same time, some members of All Saints’ live west of Redding and had to evacuate homes still in or near the fire zone.

“Those people are still very much in harm’s way, and there are a lot of people in our congregation who cannot get back into their homes,” she said.

The threat also remains for Episcopalians living in the area of the two Mendocino Complex fires. St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lakeport is located directly east of one of those fires, which has covered more than 30,000 acres and was only 38 percent contained as of Aug. 1. Ten homes have been destroyed, and more than 12,000 structures are threatened.

Deborah Smith, senior warden at St. John’s, also works with Red Cross and has been on the front line of the emergency response in that area.

“I  … have been working as a shelter manager, first in Kelseyville and then in Lower Lake when we had to move the shelter when Kelseyville went under mandatory evacuation,” Smith told ENS in a brief written message late July 31.

Other congregation members have faced evacuations as well, including the church organist and his family, according to a Facebook post.

The other Episcopal congregation in the region, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church to the west in Ukiah, is farther away from the two Mendocino Complex fires but still affected. The Rev. John Day, priest-in-charge, reported intermittent power outages July 30 in a news release about hosting a camp next week for 50 children traumatized by the fires.

The Mendocino Complex fires, for now, are located in mostly unincorporated areas, and the Episcopal congregations nearby are smaller. The situation there is different from what people in Redding face with the Carr fire, Braak said, but the church maintains a similar focus on community outreach.

Sheldon lives in a part of Redding that did not need to evacuate, so she has spent the past week in the city checking on people by phone, email and text messages. She has visited people staying in shelters or at the homes of neighbors. There is a great need for pastoral care in a time of disaster.

“It’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking. And it’s also what I’m called to do,” Sheldon said. “It’s hard, but it’s important. And it’s a blessing to be able to do it.”

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

El Obispo Presidente y Primado en reposo después de cirugía

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 2:23pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

[1 de agosto de 2018] El obispo presidente y primado de la Iglesia Episcopal Michael Curry se encuentra descansando después de someterse a una cirugía el martes, 31 de julio. Como se esperaba, y según el Primado, su equipo médico y su familia, la cirugía salió bien. El obispo Curry se encuentra en reposo y se espera que se recupere completamente.

El 25 de julio el obispo primado Curry compartió la noticia de que recientemente le habían diagnosticado cáncer de próstata y que se sometería a una intervención quirúrgica para extirpar la próstata.

El obispo primado Curry y su familia se sienten conmovidos por la multitud de oraciones y buenos deseos que han recibido. Se sienten muy agradecidos y piden que se les conceda privacidad durante su periodo de recuperación.

A medida que sea necesario, la oficina del Obispo Primado continuará dando a conocer más información.

East Tennessee bishop calls new canon to the ordinary

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 12:38pm

[Diocese of East Tennessee] The Rev. Michelle Warriner Bolt has been named as the Canon to the Ordinary for the Episcopal Church in East Tennessee by the Right. Rev. Brian L. Cole. Bolt will begin her new work on September 1. The Rev. Canon Michael Spear-Jones has briefly served as Interim Canon, following the departure of the Rev. Canon Pat Grace this past June. Bolt will oversee Transition Ministry, Congregational Development, serve as secretary of the church’s annual convention, and assist Cole in additional oversight of the Church.

“Michelle knows and loves our communities,” Bishop Cole said. “Along with knowledge and love, she brings heart and head to the work of being church in the 21st century. I know her to be both a team player and a proactive leader. As a Church, we are moving into a new season where our focus will be on Reconciling All Things in Christ. That vision of reconciliation, grounded in the first chapter of Colossians, will guide our work in a time when our world, and our Church, is hungry for truth and reconciliation. Michelle is equipped to join in and help lead such work,” he said.

Bolt said, “When Bishop Sanders laid his hands on my head to confirm me as an Episcopalian over 20 years ago, I had no idea where my journey would take me, but I knew that I loved God and I loved East Tennessee.

“Over the years, it became clear that I was called to be a priest working with the people of East Tennessee to identify what God is up to here. In the past few weeks, as I have reflected on the news of the day, it is clear that the world hungers to know and feel God’s reconciling, healing presence, and as the Episcopal Church in East Tennessee, we are poised to uncover and share this Good News as it blossoms throughout our region.”

She said, “Just about one year ago, we gathered to elect a bishop, and I have been delighted to see the Holy Spirit at work among us since that day in Bishop Cole’s daily, faithful relationship-building. I am excited to work as a part of this team, confronting the future’s challenges with clear eyes and hopeful hearts.”

Bolt graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts College Scholars degree before going on to Harvard Divinity School and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary for her masters degrees, M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School and M.Div. from Seabury Western Theological Seminary. After serving churches in Illinois and California, she returned to East Tennessee to serve as chaplain at Tyson House Episcopal/Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and later priest associate at St. John’s Cathedral. Her passion is “for connecting individuals and families to the deep spiritual rhythms and practices of our tradition in a way that is both authentic and fresh.” She lives with her husband Patrick and four sons in Knoxville.

The Episcopal Church in East Tennessee is comprised of 51 Episcopal churches and worshiping communities in 33 counties in Tennessee and one county in North Georgia nestled in the valley between the Cumberland Plateau and the Appalachian Mountains. The area covers approximately 14,350 square miles, with a total population of about 2.5 million. The Rt. Rev. Brian L. Cole is the fifth bishop of East Tennessee.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry resting after surgery

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 8:28pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is resting comfortably following surgery on Tuesday, July 31.  According to the presiding bishop, his family, and his medical team, the surgery went well, as had been expected. Curry is resting, and a full recovery continues to be anticipated.

On July 25 Curry shared news that he had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer and would be having surgery to remove the prostate gland.

Curry and his family are touched by the outpouring of prayers and well wishes. In their thankfulness, they ask for privacy during his recovery.

Further information will continue to be released by the presiding bishop’s office, as needed.

Arsonists destroy altar of Anglican church in Barbados, but building saved

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 2:56pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Arsonists have destroyed the altar, two kneeling stools and a prayer book in an attack on a church in Barbados on July 29, but the island’s firefighters prevented the blaze causing significant damage to the rest of the church.

Read the full article here.

Former bishop suffragan convicted of automobile manslaughter applies for work-release program

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 2:51pm

[Episcopal News Service] Heather Cook, formerly Episcopal Diocese of Maryland bishop suffragan, has asked the Maryland prison system to release her for a daytime work program.

Her request is being reviewed, and if approved, Cook could begin the unspecified work within a few weeks, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Cook is serving a seven-year prison sentence for fatally striking a bicyclist on Dec. 27, 2014, while texting and driving drunk, and then leaving the scene.

The Maryland Parole Commission denied her May 2017 request for parole after a hearing at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup, where Cook, 61, has been serving her sentence since October 2015. In May of this year, she was denied her request to serve the rest of her sentence on home detention.

Cook pleaded guilty in September 2015 to automobile manslaughter and three other criminal charges for causing the car-bicycle accident in suburban Baltimore that killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo, a 41-year-old software engineer at Johns Hopkins Hospital who also built custom bike frames. He was married and the father of two young children.

The charges included driving while having nearly three times the legal limit of alcohol in her blood system, texting while driving and then leaving the scene of the accident. Cook originally faced 13 charges relating to the fatal accident.

Alisa Rock, a sister of Palermo’s wife, emailed The Sun to say his family opposes Cook’s latest application.

Under Maryland law, Cook was eligible for parole after serving a quarter of her sentence. She reached that date in July 2017. The Sun reported that Cook has been earning 10 days off her sentence each month by working in the prison sew shop for Maryland Correctional Enterprises, an arm of the department that hires people while they are incarcerated. She would continue to earn those days on a work-release program.

Cook’s current release date is in late August of next year, according to a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Lettre de l’Évêque Primat concernant sa prochaine intervention chirurgicale Prières bienvenues

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 12:07pm

Le 25 juillet 2018

Chers amis dans le Christ,

Il y a quelques mois, lors de mon examen médical annuel, on m’a diagnostiqué un cancer de la prostate. Après divers tests, consultations et conversations avec mon épouse et mes filles, j’ai décidé d’un traitement par intervention chirurgicale. Ce mardi 31 juillet, je subirai une opération d’ablation de la prostate.

Je suis heureux de pouvoir dire que le pronostic s’avère très bon et tout à fait positif. J’ai parlé avec plusieurs personnes qui ont vécu cette même épreuve et qui m’ont offert à la fois encouragement et conseils utiles. Je resterai à l’hôpital au moins une journée puis rentrerai chez moi pour convalescence.

On m’a dit qu’il est raisonnable de prévoir 4 à 6 semaines. J’ai l’intention de reprendre mes fonctions début septembre et ne prévois pas de changements significatifs dans mes engagements.

J’ai grâce à Dieu la chance d’avoir une famille merveilleuse, une équipe médicale de premier ordre, un personnel exceptionnel, de chers collègues et amis, une vocation à laquelle je consacre ma vie et, surtout, un Dieu bon, formidable et aimant entre les mains duquel nous demeurons toujours. Alors, dites une prière et sachez que j’ai hâte de revenir à mon poste en septembre.

Que Dieu vous bénisse et gardez la foi.


Monseigneur Michael B. Curry
Évêque Primat de
l’Église épiscopale



Des informations complémentaires seront publiées par le Bureau de l’Évêque Primat dès qu’elles seront disponibles.

Carta del Obispo Primado con motivo de su próxima cirugía Acogemos sus plegarias

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 12:05pm

25 de julio de 2018

Estimados amigos en Cristo:

Hace unos meses, en el transcurso de mi examen médico anual, fui diagnosticado con cáncer de la próstata. Después de un sinnúmero de exámenes, consultas y conversaciones con mi esposa e hijas he decidido seguir un ciclo de tratamiento que incluye una intervención quirúrgica. El próximo 31 de julio me someteré a una cirugía para extirpar la próstata.

Me complace decirles que el pronóstico es alentador y bastante positivo. He hablado con otras personas que han pasado por esto quienes me han dado ánimo y consejos útiles. Estaré internado en el hospital por lo menos durante un día y luego estaré en casa durante el proceso de recuperación.

Me han dicho que puedo contar con un período razonable de ausencia de cuatro a seis semanas. Planeo reanudar mis obligaciones a principios de septiembre y no espero ningún cambio importante en mi calendario de compromisos.

Me siento muy bendecido por tener una familia maravillosa, un equipo médico de primera, un gran equipo de trabajo, colegas y amigos queridos, y una vocación a la que he entregado mi vida, pero sobre todo un Dios bueno, grandioso y amoroso en cuyas manos estamos siempre. Por tanto, hagan una oración. Y sepan que espero con ansias poder regresar a mi puesto en septiembre.

Que Dios los bendiga y que guarden la fe.

+ Michael

Reverendísimo Michael B. Curry
Obispo Presidente y Primado
Iglesia Episcopal

La oficina del Obispo Presidente publicará más información a medida que esté disponible.

Watch a time-lapse video of how Episcopal Relief & Development let convention ‘color our world’

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 11:51am

[Episcopal News Service] The action of General Convention can feel frenetic in a parliamentary sort of way and, when the Episcopal Church met in Austin earlier this month, Episcopal Relief & Development offered an antidote.

The organization’s booth, which was front and center in the Exhibit Hall, featured four life-sized coloring opportunities.

Illustrator and designer Portia Monberg converted some of Episcopal Relief & Development’s most iconic images to help tell the story of the organization’s three key strategic priorities: women, children and climate.

The two 8-by-8 panels and two 8-b-16 ones were blank canvases in the General Convention Exhibit Hall on July 3. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The two 8-by-8 panels and two 8-by-16 ones were blank canvases on July 3, ready for participants to color.

Donna Field, wife of Diocese of West Missouri Bishop Martin Field, colors at the Episcopal Relief & Development booth in the Exhibit Hall on July 3 while Field watches. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

By the time the Exhibit Hour folded its tents mid-afternoon on July 11 (two days before the end of convention), the panels were a riot of color.

By the hall’s last day on July 11, the panels still had some coloring spaces left. Allie Haney of Lubbock, Texas, joined some last-minute artists. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Some areas of the panels were colored precisely and complimented other more child-like spaces.

“Honestly, General Convention is long, and we felt that a booth that changed and evolved day-by-day with the ‘creative’ help of attendees would be more interesting and interactive,” said Sean McConnell, senior director for engagement. “Many people also wanted to learn more about what they were coloring, so the images gave us an opportunity to talk in depth about our partnerships and integrated programs.”

And we’re done! Thank you everyone at #GC79 for helping @EpiscopalRelief #ColorOurWorld ! pic.twitter.com/aQYmYk9YWd

— RobRadtke (@RobRadtke) July 11, 2018

And, the panels live on. The Rev. Anthony Guillen, the Episcopal Church’s missioner for Latino/Hispanic ministries, helped arrange to have Episcopal Relief & Development donate the coloring book panels to the Sunday schools at two Austin churches: St. James Church and San Francisco de Assis.

For those who wanted to continue their coloring elsewhere, Episcopal Relief & Development handed out coloring books and colored pencils. The booth panel illustrations are included in the “Color Our World” book, which can be downloaded here.

Episcopal Relief & Development also offered convention participants the opportunity to contribute to its climate-resilience programs to help offset the carbon footprint of the average attendee. Staff member were available to discuss the organization’s key program priorities and help people learn about the Episcopal Asset Map.

Visitors to the organization’s loication in the Exhibit Hall could pick up giveaways and sample fairly-traded coffee and chocolate via Episcopal Relief & Development’s partnership with Equal Exchange. The organization offered post-TEConversations discussions related to its worldwide work. The three TEConversations were joint sessions of bishops and deputies that featured presentations on evangelism, racial reconciliation and care of creation.

More information about Episcopal Relief & Development’s work on at the 79th General Convention is here.

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

Ten years after Kowloon church was planted, construction begins on permanent chapel

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 1:56pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of a church plant in Kowloon coincided with the ground-breaking ceremony for its first permanent building. The Church of Shalom in Shamshuipo, Kowloon, has been meeting in the hall of St. Andrew’s Primary School for the past 10 years; but now a permanent chapel is being built.

Read the full article here.

Christians in public life in Wales and Australia discuss connection between faith and work

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 1:54pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican politicians in Wales and the former Australian Reserve Bank governor have been explaining the role of faith in public life. The ruling Labour Party’s Ann Jones, the deputy presiding officer of the National Assembly for Wales; and opposition conservative member of the assembly, Darren Millar, made their comments in the Diocese of St Asaph’s magazine, Teulu Asaph. While in Australia, the former Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens, a Baptist, told an audience as he collected the Faith & Work award for 2018 how he had been “scarred” by ridicule of his faith.

Read the full article here.

Union of Black Episcopalians at 50

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 1:36pm

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers (left) with Indianapolis Bishop Jennifer Baskerville Burrows and the Rev. Keith Yamamoto, were among more than 300 laity and clergy who attended UBE’s 50th anniversary celebration July 23-27 in Nassau, Bahamas. Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism and reconciliation, challenged the gathering to step out and proclaim the Gospel we already know. Photo: Pat McCaughan/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Nassau, Bahamas] The Union of Black Episcopalians wrapped up a 50th anniversary celebratory conference here July 27, reviewing and renewing the organization’s historic commitment to justice for all, embracing the Jesus Movement’s way of love, and affirming its calls to youth and to ministry to the most vulnerable.

About 300 youth, young adults, laity and clergy from across the Americas and the United Kingdom enjoyed Nassau’s warm island hospitality and climate, and opportunities for daily Morning Prayer and bible study. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s opening sermon July 23 at Christ Church Cathedral sparked spirited, standing room only nightly worship with gospel choirs, jazz music and dance ministries in local congregations.

Provocative presenters and panelists considered UBE’s role and continuing relevance in a post-Christian, increasingly racially and ethnically divided and politically charged world. Discussions included: the complexities of multiculturalism, becoming the beloved community, the Jesus Movement, environmental justice, current clergy trends and youth leadership.

UBE National President Annette Buchanan renewed the organization’s mission to support African-American seminarians like Shawn Evelyn, left, from the Diocese of Los Angeles, who attends the Virginia Theological Seminary. Photo: Pat McCaughan/Episcopal News Service

UBE National President Annette Buchanan proclaimed the organization “the largest advocacy group in the Episcopal Church.” And she announced the addition of new chapters expanding collaborative advocacy initiative and offering ongoing support of Black youth, seminarians, congregations, clergy and institutions.

UBE alum Aaron Ferguson, now an Atlanta financial consultant, told banquet attendees on July 26 that the organization’s mentoring and support transformed his life. It afforded him opportunities to travel, to create lasting friendships, acquire college scholarships, and garner appointments to such church bodies as the Standing Commission on National Concerns at age 19.

“We hear the board meeting, the business meeting, we talk about all those things. (But) UBE has a spirit about itself that affected my life tremendously,” he said. “I promise you, there’s some young people here whose lives will be changed in ways you can’t imagine, with the wonderful way UBE operates, to create this inner sanctum of peace, safety and security for young black people in the church.”

UBE: ‘made for such a time as this’

No stranger to turbulent times, UBE emerged in 1968, the same year Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and the Kerner Commission concluded the nation’s 1967 riots and civil unrest were sparked by its steady move toward two societies: one black, one white; separate and unequal.

The Rev. Gail Fisher Stewart, an associate pastor at Calvary Church in Washington, D.C., and a conference co-dean, said that knowledge made the anniversary celebration “both exciting but also bittersweet, because we are looking at the very same conditions in our society then and now.”

The Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, a conference presenter, agreed.

“We’ve come a long, long way during these 50 years yet … the very violence that took Martin Luther King’s life remains a prevalent and pervasive reality in our land, in our nation today,” she told the gathering via Skype from New York City.

“That assassin’s bullet is a manifestation of the very same violence that is the legacy of slavery, the very same violence that is white supremacy … that is ‘make America great again,’” she said, amid applause.

African-Americans continue to disproportionately experience extreme poverty; institutionalized racism; and a lack of decent housing, jobs, educational and recreational opportunities. Such lack contributes to pervasive violence – both self-inflicted and often at the hands of law enforcement authorities – and makes eventual incarceration more likely, contributing to what Douglas called “a poverty to prison to death pipeline.”

U.S. poverty rates hover at 22 percent for blacks and 19 percent for Latinos, more than double the 8.8 percent for their white counterparts. African-Americans number 13.2 percent of the U.S. population, but are 5.1 times more likely than whites to be incarcerated; constituting almost 40 percent of the prison population, she said.

But Douglas and the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism and reconciliation, described the presiding bishop’s initiatives as a way for the black church to strengthen its characteristic faith and to help others thrive despite the current climate.

Curry’s Jesus Movement calls us to a rule of life, a way of life, back to “the center of black faith … to discover what compelled slaves to continue to fight for justice against all odds and never succumb to the enslaving conditions of death that were around them,” Douglas said.

That faith was born of struggle and challenge yet when slaves sang spirituals such as “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord,”they were affirming Jesus’ presence with them in their suffering and pain. That, not only was he there with them, but they were present to him as well. “They were living in this crucified reality” from which they drew strength to survive, she said.

That song represents both a call and a challenge to the black church’s present reality, she added. “What does it mean to be there with Jesus, not at the foot of the cross, but on the cross? What does that mean to be with the crucified classes of people in our own time?”

Douglas said it means it isn’t about fighting to be at the center of the inside (of institutions), but rather to be accountable to and in solidarity with those who are on “the underside of the outside.” To be in solidarity with the most vulnerable today, such as transgendered teenagers, who have the nation’s highest suicide rate, or with asylum-seeking immigrant parents separated from their children.

Spellers told the gathering that on May 19, Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding “proclaimed the Gospel and the world responded with a resounding Amen! Now, black Episcopalians have to step out of the shadows and outside of our churches and proclaim it too, proclaim the Gospel we know. Proclaim the love and saving power of the God we know in Christ so that the world can know him and love him too.”

May 19 was the day “Christians woke up and said, that’s not the church I left when I was 13. I’m coming back. It was the day that atheists began to tweet, ‘if that’s Christian, sign me up.’”

Within a week of the royal wedding, a newly created Facebook page, Episcopal Evangelists, had 2,000 followers, she said. A Saturday Night Live skit, featuring Keenan Thompson as Curry, offered great one-liners that the presiding bishop loved, like: “they gave me five minutes but the good Lord multiplied it to a cool 15.”

After Curry preached, people not only discussed his sermon, she said, they were “debating the power of love. The word Episcopal was the most searched term on Google that Saturday. People were so curious about what is this church and what kind of Jesus does this guy know about.”

The presiding bishop woke the world up about the Episcopal Church. But, “at times such as these … when white supremacy has gained not just a toehold, but is sleeping in the White House … when our nation scoffs at the poor and the refugee and the widow and children and everybody Jesus loved most,” the world needs Christians to wake up too.

“The world needs Episcopalians whose lives depend on the God we know in Jesus Christ and, if there is anyone in this church who has needed this faith to survive, who has wrested the faith from the hand of the colonizer and the hand of the master, surely it is black Episcopalians,” Spellers told the gathering.

UBE is celebrating not just a half-century but 400 years of black Anglicans on this continent, she added, with “the ups and downs, the trials and triumphs that have brought us to this moment … the question now is, do we know what time it is?”

Multiculturalism and becoming the beloved community

Massachusetts Suffragan Bishop Gayle Harris was the first woman to celebrate Eucharist at the Holy Cross Church in Nassau, Bahamas. Photo: Pat McCaughan/Episcopal News Service

Panel discussions focused on changing circumstances affecting many already-vulnerable black churches, such as diminishing opportunities for full-time traditional clergy employment; and, how to welcome those with different cultural identities, including youth, who have largely left the church.

Elliston Rahming, author and Bahamian ambassador to the United States, told the gathering that, while the United States prides itself on being “a melting pot” for all cultural identities, the percentage of foreign-born people in the general population has remained static the past 156 years.

“In 1860, foreign-born citizens within the U.S. represented about 13.2 percent of the population. In 2016, there were 43 million foreign-born citizens within the United States, representing about 13.5 percent,” he said.

Quoting a 2013 Christianity Today article, by Ed Stetzel he added: “The church is called upon to be an instrument in the world showing and sharing the love of Jesus. The church is also to be a sign pointing to the Kingdom of God and acting as a credible witness of God’s power. People are supposed to look at the church and say that’s what the Kingdom of God ought to look like.”

Yet, to paraphrase Martin Luther King: “Sunday morning at 11 a.m. is still the most segregated hour in the U.S.,” he said.

Heidi Kim, the church’s missioner for racial reconciliation, and the Rev. Chuck Wynder, missioner for social justice and advocacy engagement, presented “Becoming the Beloved Community,” a reconciling initiative to help “repair the breach”.

Kim and Wynder, who have organized justice pilgrimages as a way to healing and transformation, called the resource creative, adaptable and different.

“Previously we thought we’d just make everybody do anti-racism training and then we’d all be trained and everything would be fine, but that didn’t work,” Kim said.

The Rev. Sandye Wilson said facilitating authentic relationships at the Episcopal Church of St. Andrew and Holy Communion in South Orange, New Jersey, where she is rector, requires “deep prayer, with deep respect for the traditions of all the people who are there, with an opportunity for people to learn from one another.”

“My challenge to us is to recognize that the kind of hospitality we have to offer folks is very different from years ago when American blacks sat on one side of the aisle in churches and folks from the Caribbean sat on other. Just because we look alike doesn’t mean our experiences have been similar. And our hermeneutic of life is determined by our lived experiences.”

In another workshop discussion, the Rev. Anne Mallonee, executive vice president and chief ecclesiastical officer for the Church Pension Group, said the traditional model of the full-time priest is in decline because of dwindling membership, aging congregations, static pledge and plate income, accompanied by rising costs—trends that had prompted some UBE youth delegates to question the church’s goal of raising up leadership if congregations are unable to fairly compensate them.

Strategic Outreach: ‘a seat at the table’

UBE added three new chapters — Haiti, Alabama and Central Gulf Coast — to its current 35, collaborated with the Consultation and Deputies of Color to help ensure representation on church elected bodies, and pass supportive legislation at the 79th General Convention, affording members “a seat at the table,” according to Buchanan in her address to the July 26 business meeting.

UBE also supported the Episcopal Church’s appointment of the Rev. Ron Byrd as missioner for the office of black ministries, she said. Byrd, who had been slated to speak at the gathering, was called away because of a family illness.

UBE Youth participants planned and led a July 25 worship service at Holy Cross Church In Nassau,
Bahamas. Photo: Pat McCaughan/Episcopal News Service

Youth representatives Julia Jones and Cameron Scott reported that a dozen youth attended the conference, from Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Michigan and Georgia. They participated in a local service project along with their Bahamian counterparts, Jones said.

They also led July 25 evening worship, a jazz mass at Holy Cross Anglican Church, “the highlight of our conference,” according to Jones. “We definitely felt the Holy Spirit moving.”

And while a panel of youth representatives called for change, telling the gathering they are frustrated at their lack of voice, power and role in church leadership, Jones said: “We know we are the future and we are proud to live up to that challenge.”

UBE’s continued support of the historically Black St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina, was acknowledged by their respective presidents, who reported increased enrollment and fundraising efforts, expanded curricula and retention rates.

Buchanan said UBE’s priorities remain to foster the vitality of black churches, and to support laity and clergy. The organization is planning to offer mentoring programs for both and has already sought to strengthen its ties with diocesan clergy in New Jersey, Newark, New York, Long Island and Maryland.

Additionally, the organization provided financial and material aid to Hurricane Irma victims in both the United States and the British Virgin Islands. The organization is hoping to recruit clergy for three-to-four week stays in the Virgin Islands to offer much-needed rest to overwhelmed clergy, she said.

The next annual meeting is planned for late July 2019 in Los Angeles, she said.

Honorees at the organization’s July 27 banquet included:

Diane Porter, with the Marie Hopkins award for outstanding contributions to the social mission of the church;

Austin, Texas, City Councilwoman Ora Houston, with the Dr. Verna Dozier Award for service-oriented work;

Dr. John F. Robertson, a founding UBE member, received a special community award for physical and mental health initiatives and “for ensuring UBE stays a healthy community,” Buchanan said.

The Rev. Donald G. Kerr, assistant curate, St. Barnabas Parish in Nassau, for facilitating the organization’s first gathering outside the United States;

Panama Bishop Julio Murray, who in August will be consecrated primate of the Church in Central America, received the 2018 Presidential Award for steadfast support of youth and UBE.

He called the award “a surprise. You do what you do because God has given us talents and gifts and we need to share,” he told the gathering.

“The Union has played a very important part in my life,” Murray said, adding that the organization gives voice to brothers and sisters across the diaspora and raises up youth leaders. “We need to keep connected. While we are together, we are so strong. We are called to be a union. We need each other; we need to take care of each other.

“Union of Black Episcopalians, don’t stop only at change. We need to continue to work for transformation,” he said.

“If you stop at change, it will go back to be what it used to and some of that is going on now. So we need to move and work together for transformation so that it will never be what it used to, but it will be part, as (the presiding bishop) Michael (Curry) would say, part of the dream God has for all of us.”

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

Presiding Bishop to have surgery for prostate cancer

Wed, 07/25/2018 - 3:40pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry announced July 25 that he will soon undergo surgery for prostate cancer.

Dear Friends in Christ,

A few months ago, through my annual physical, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After a variety of tests, consultations, and conversations with my wife and daughters, I decided on a surgical treatment course. On this coming Tuesday, July 31st, I will have surgery to remove the prostate gland.

I am happy to say that the prognosis looks very good and quite positive. I have spoken with several others who have gone through this, and who have offered both encouragement and helpful advice. I will be in the hospital for at least a day, then at home to recuperate.

I’ve been told that 4-6 weeks is a reasonable time to anticipate. I plan to resume my duties in early September and I do not anticipate any significant changes in my commitments.

I am very blessed with a wonderful family, a first-rate medical team, a great staff, dear colleagues and friends, a calling to which I have given my life, and above all a good, great and loving God in whose hands we always remain. So, do say a prayer. And know that I look forward to being back at my post in September.

God bless you, and keep the faith,


The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church


Provincial fact-finding group looking into claims of episcopal election fraud in Diocese of Haiti

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 5:58pm

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has taken the next step in a never-before-used canonical process contesting the election of the Very Rev. Kerwin Delicat as bishop coadjutor for the Diocese of Haiti.

Curry on July 17 officially asked the Province II Court of Review to convene as a fact-finding commission and prepare a report on allegations of what a group of Haitian Episcopalians called an “electoral coup d’état.” The group represents more than 20 percent of the clergy and lay electors of the June 2 convention that chose Delicat, dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The 16 priests and 26 lay people say that Bishop Diocesan Jean Zaché Duracin and his supporters:

  • Violated a covenant that was agreed to just more than a year ago by Curry, Duracin, Haiti Bishop Suffragan Ogé Beauvoir and the diocesan Standing Committee to “address and resolve many of the issues of conflict that have been burdening the diocese.”
  • Manipulated ordinations to influence the election results.
  • Developed an illegitimate slate of candidates by eliminating those who did not support the bishop.
  • Violated election canons and the diocese’s bylaws governing elections.
  • Planned and implemented obstacles to voting that amounted to fraud.

The electors also object to what they say is Delicat’s moral and ethical character. They claim that a different candidate had been expelled from the election process because he had “beaten, tortured and humiliated” a lay woman who was pregnant with his child and pressured to have an abortion. They allege that Delicat and another priest witnessed the abuse, did not stop it and did not denounce it.

The text of the eight-page “contestation” is here.

“We live in a country where the level of corruption and the corruption index are among the highest in the world. However, the church and her ministers must be above all suspicion,” the group writes in its contestation. “We should have been the salt of Haitian society. Unfortunately, the fraudulent election of June 2, 2018 only takes our church away from its mission in a society ruined by corruption and impunity.”

Duracin is retiring after serving as bishop since 1994. The ordination and consecration is set for Jan. 5, 2019.

The Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, bishop for pastoral development in Curry’s office, told the House of Bishops about the contestation on July 9 during a legislative session at General Convention. He noted that the June 2 election came after the convention failed to elect a bishop after five ballots on May 17. His remarks are here at the 1-hour- and-18-minute mark.

How the contestation process works

The group exercised a canonical provision that allows at least 10 percent of the electors to file a written objection to a bishop election within 10 days after the vote (Title III.11.8.a and b beginning on page 110 here). The group filed four days after the June 2 election.

The canon requires the contestation be filed with the secretary of the diocesan convention who then has 10 days to inform the bishop diocesan, the chancellor and diocesan standing committee and the presiding bishop. Curry was then required to request an investigation by the court of review of the province in which the diocese is located. Haiti is a member of Province II.

The court of review has 30 days from July 17 to complete its work and give the presiding bishop a report. Curry then has 15 days to send that report to the bishop diocesan, the chancellor, diocesan standing committee and the secretary of the convention. The secretary must send a copy of the report to each of the delegates who filed the objection.

The standing committee must include the report in the materials it sends to the church’s other diocesan standing committees as part of its request that they consent to the election. The presiding bishop does the same as part of his request for consent from bishops exercising jurisdiction. A major of each group must consent to the election.

The provision has never been invoked since it was added to the Title III canons on ministry in 1994 (via Resolution A024), according Ousley. In fact, objections to bishop elections in the Episcopal Church are rare, he said. The last time protest came in the 19th century, according to Ousley.

In two more recent instances, concerns were raised by bishops and standing committees during the consent process. Those concerns led to the church failing to consent to the Rev. Mark Lawrence’s first election in the Diocese of South Carolina in 2007 and the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester’s 2009 election in the Diocese of Northern Michigan. Lawrence was reelected later in 2007, received the consent of the church and left the Episcopal Church in late 2012. Thew Forrester did not stand again for election and the diocese chose the Rev. Rayford Ray in late 2010.

Canons make clear participants’ roles

While the election contestation process has not been used since its inception, Ousley said it is clear what must happen and what roles are assigned. First, in the governance and polity of the Episcopal Church, bishop elections are diocesan-run processes. The rest of the church only gets involved after the election by way of the process that requires all other diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction to consent to the vote.

Those requests are typically accompanied by a photo and biography of the bishop-elect, certifications of his or her medical and psychological fitness and proof that he or she meets the age and prior ordination requirements. Since Lawrence’s first failed election, the bishop elected is also asked to answer a set of questions about theology and commitment to remain in the Episcopal Church.

Ousley told Episcopal News Service during a July 24 interview that various people expressed concerns about the Haiti election during the search and nomination phases. Those concerns came to him, the presiding bishop and to a variety of bishops, clergy and laity across the church.

“We needed to take note of it, be aware of internal conflict and turmoil in Haiti, but it remained a Haitian matter to resolve,” Ousley said. “What we have with the contestation is a feeling on the part of those that signed the letter, and those they might represent, that they were dissatisfied with the process and inattention to their concerns prior to the election and even during the electing convention itself.”

Including the report of the provincial fact-finding effort with the consent requests is “an opportunity for the church as a whole to have additional information to help it in its discernment about whether to give consent or not, he added.

The bishops with jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees are not so much asked to determine if the allegations are true or if the provincial fact-finding report is right or wrong, Ousley said. Instead, they will be asked to consent to the results of the electing convention or to decide that the best way forward is to not consent.

Ousley said it is also clear that the presiding bishop’s role at this point is prepare himself to be the chief consecrator of a bishop-elect by being satisfied that the consent process has been properly executed. In the case of Delicat’s election, this process also includes the fact-finding effort and the resulting report.

“The presiding bishop doesn’t have an opinion about whether there should be consent or whether consent should be withheld,” Ousley said. His task is to follow the canons and provide the church will all the information it needs to decide the consent question, he added.

Lastly, Ousley said, it is clear that while the provincial court of review is given a role in the contestation process, the canons say the role is that of an information-gathering body charged with producing a report on the allegations, not acting as a court. Normally, the court of review function’s within the church’s clergy discipline canons.

“They’re not going to make a judgment about guilty or not guilty. They’re not necessarily going to come down on one side or another,” he said.

Instead, its report will be a compilation of the information the members were able to get. “It’s not the court’s responsibility to decide for the church or to tip the process one way or another,” he said. The group might say that certain allegations are true or not. “But more than likely, it is going have a number of things that will say ‘on the one hand but on the other,’” he said.

“It’s difficult to determine truth when in fact there are a variety of truths that are likely to be revealed,” Ousley said. “For those who are waiting for the report in hopes that the report will make the decision for them, they’re going have a very long wait.”

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

Union of Black Episcopalians at 50: ‘Glory of the Past, Hope for the Future’

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 2:34pm

[Episcopal News Service — Nassau, Bahamas] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry electrified hundreds of worshippers who chanted ‘Love Lifted Me’ along with him at Christ Church Cathedral here in Nassau during the July 24 opening Eucharist of the 50th annual meeting of the Union of Black Episcopalians.

More than 800 Bahamian and U.S. laity, clergy, dignitaries and officials responded passionately as Curry invoked the hymn, a favorite of his grandmother: “I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore, very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more, but the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry, from the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

“Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help, love lifted me!”

Curry’s sermon, laced with frequent call-and-response, spontaneous laughter and sustained applause, echoed his familiar ‘Love is the way, the only way, there is no other way’ mantra, as he challenged worshippers to embrace Christ’s ministry of reconciliation.

UBE President Annette Buchanan also invoked the rich spiritual heritage of black Episcopalians. She reminded the congregation that although the organization is observing its 50th annual conference, its precursors date to the pre-Civil War era.

“African-Americans were in the Episcopal Church prior to the civil war,” Buchanan told the gathering during the service. “We were the largest number of congregants in the church because we were slaves and Episcopalians.”

The earliest known national organization among black Episcopalians was the Protestant Episcopal Society for Promoting the Extension of the Church Among Colored People, founded by the Rt. Rev. James Theodore Holly of St. Luke’s Church, New Haven, who is considered the first African-American bishop in the Episcopal Church.

That organization began in1865, with four clergy and seven congregations, according to the Rev. J. Carlton Hayden, in an article on the UBE website. Holly later served as bishop of Haiti.

Post-Civil War, many former slaves left the Episcopal Church, Buchanan said. “But those of us who are here decided we were going to make this church what it said it was going to be—a place where all are welcome and where there will be justice for all.”

Buchanan said more than 300 youth and adult, laity and clergy registered for the July 24-27 conference, themed “Glory of the Past, Hope for the Future” at the Meliá Nassau Beach Resort. “Those of us who are here are descendants of those folks, who said we are not going anywhere,” she said. “We are going to make this church a better place.”

The Rt. Rev. Laish Zane Boyd, Sr., bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and celebrant at the three-hour service, welcomed Curry and UBE conference participants.

“UBE is 50 years old and has chosen to hold its annual conference for the first time outside the U.S. and, we approve,” Boyd said amid laughter and applause.

The Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart distributes communion to New Jersey Bishop William “Chip” Stokes during the three-hour opening worship service on July 24 at the 50th annual meeting at Christ Church Cathedral in Nassau. A former police officer, she serves as the assisting pastor at Calvary Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. Photo: Lynn Collins

Bahamian officials in attendance included: Governor General Margaret Pindling; Deputy Prime Minister K. Peter Turnquest and Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar. Bishops in attendance included: Archbishop Julio Murray of Central America; New Jersey Bishop Chip Stokes; Indianapolis Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows; Massachusetts Suffragan Bishop Gayle Harris; Bishop Suffragan for Armed Services and Federal Ministries Carl Wright; and former Anglican Bishop of the West Indies Drexel Gomez.

During the service, the Very Rev. Patrick L. Adderley, cathedral dean, said the congregation’s first building was erected between 1670 and 1684. Spaniards destroyed it in 1684, and also a subsequent building, in 1703. The current, Gothic style building is made of locally cut quarry limestone rocks, held together by their size and weight of gravity rather than cement, he said.

It opened in 1841 and was named a cathedral by Queen Victoria in 1861. At the same time, she designated Nassau a city, “so there is a close and abiding relationship between the cathedral and the city,” he said.

The Bahamas, a British crown colony since 1718, became an independent commonwealth in 1973 and celebrates July 10 as its Independence Day.

The prime minister, the rock star and the power of love

Curry quoted both four-term British Prime Minister William Gladstone (1868-1894) and rock guitarist and singer Jimi Hendrix as saying, “when the power of love overcomes the love of power, then the world will know peace.”

It helped illuminate further Curry’s message of love and reconciliation, and 2 Corinthians 5, the text he chose for his sermon. In it, St. Paul describes believers as new creations and because Christ died for all, there is a new creation and believers have been given a ministry of reconciliation.

This way of love, the love of Christ “is so powerful, so profound, so awesome that it can turn the world upside down, which is actually right side up,” Curry told the gathering.

It can also change the way people relate to one another, personally, interpersonally, communally, politically and economically. “Love is surely the way. Turn to your neighbor and say love is the way.”

He drew laughter and applause with: “I attended a wedding a few months ago,” referring to his preaching at the royal wedding of British Prince Harry and U.S. actress Meghan Markle, a sermon that propelled him into the international spotlight.

After the wedding, he joined Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at a rally attended by about a thousand youth. There, he said, young people told him: “We really want to believe you. We want to believe that love can change us and can change this world but it’s hard to believe that. Do you really believe what you say? Is love really the way?”

Invoking the names of those who organized and mobilized love, such as South Africans Nelson Mandela, Steven Biko and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Mahatma Gandhi; U.S. civil rights worker Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King Jr., and “if you don’t believe them, ask Moses. And if you don’t believe him, ask Jesus,” he said, amid applause, adding: “love can lift you up.”

Jesus was crucified by “religious folk” not by atheists, he said. “I’ve been a priest almost 40 years,” he added, amid laughter, “and let me tell you something, ain’t no atheist put grey hairs on my head.”

Rather, Jesus was killed by “an unholy alliance of religion, economic power and political power … self-interest and selfishness.”

He drew raucous applause and laughter saying, “Pontius Pilate should have listened to his wife. Pilate’s wife told him I’ve been having a dream about this man and you need to leave that brother alone.”

Instead, Pilate ended up “a footnote appended to the Nicene Creed.” He and others thought the crucifixion finished him, but “Jesus was very wise to understand that in the kingdom there is radical equality,” Curry said. “In Christ there is no male or female, no Jew or Greek, all are one in Christ.”

As Mary Magdalene and other women went to the tomb early Sunday morning, to do what love required, to anoint Jesus and give him a proper burial, they discovered the risen Christ, he said.

Again, the congregation responded enthusiastically and passionately to: “If Jesus had not had women disciples and apostles and followers, we still might not know he rose from the dead.”

Curry continued by saying that self-centeredness “thinking that the self is the center of the universe and the world and it’s all about me and you are on the periphery, when that selfishness, self-centeredness takes control, you have a world bent on destruction … the most destructive force in the universe. It can destroy families, communities, churches, nations and, if left unfettered, will destroy creation itself.”

“But love is the antidote. Love is the cure. Love is the balm in Gilead that overcomes and conquers sinful selfishness.”

Challenging the gathering to embrace Christ’s ministry of love, of reconciliation, he said: “What would UBE look like if love was the way? What would the Episcopal Church look like if love was the way? What would the Anglican Communion look like if love was the way?

And, drawing sustained applause, laughter and shouts: “What would the White House look like, if love was the way?”

Sobering, he recalled the July 8 prayer service that Episcopalians led outside the T. Don Hutto Residential Detention Center near Austin, Texas, during the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. The center, a former medium security prison, has housed female immigrants and asylum seekers since 2009.

“And we stood there and bore witness,” while some in the group approached the center as close as police would allow and held up signs saying, ‘God loves you. We’re here for you’.

“And they shouted to the women, ‘God loves you. God loves you’. Most of the women inside spoke only Spanish. But the Holy Spirit did some translating, because they understood what they were saying.

“And, inside, the women had towels and they were waving their towels in the windows

And were shouting, ‘we love you, we love you, we love you’. Now, that day we did not break down the walls. But let me tell you something it took seven times going around the city of Jericho until those walls came tumbling down,” he said.

“And love will keep going around those walls, until the walls keep come tumbling down, until the detention center comes tumbling down, until walls of injustice come tumbling down. Love does not quit. Love does not give up. Love will get up … love lifted me. Love lifted me, when nothing else could help.

“You can count on, you can bank on, you can commit your life to the way of Jesus, cause his love will never fail.”

The Diocese of the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands encompasses some 50,000 Anglicans.

The UBE conference continues through July 27 and features President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings and other guest preachers and celebrants, as well as a diverse range of workshops.

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

Church leaders unite behind vision for ‘one people, one nation, and one South Sudan’

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 11:14am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Church leaders in South Sudan, including  Anglican Primate and Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, have issued a joint statement calling on political leaders in the war-torn country to pursue peace. After a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, the heads of churches in the membership of the South Sudan Council of Churches issued a joint statement lamenting the violence and suffering of the nation’s people. “We as the shepherds of the people of South Sudan continue to mourn and grieve for our country,” they say. “Our hearts pain for the suffering, tired, hungry flock and for our leaders with all their fears, anger and trauma as they struggle both across our nation, the region and the world.”

Read the entire article here.

Bishop steers marriage registration bill through parliamentary process

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 11:11am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Church of England Bishop of St Albans Alan Smith has become the first bishop in 20 years to steer draft legislation through the entire legislative process in the House of Lords, the upper house of Britain’s Parliament. At present, marriage registers include the name of the bride and groom’s fathers. If the Registration of Marriage Bill becomes law it will allow the parties’ mothers to be named as well. The bill also provides for the creation of electronic marriage registers in place of hand-written registers, which often lead to mistakes when details are added to electronic databases for searching.

“This injustice dates to 1837 when children were viewed as a father’s property and little consideration was given to women,” Smith said.

Read the entire article here.