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Church of England’s first female diocesan bishop releases film to help ex-offenders

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 1:51pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Rachel Treweek, the Church of England’s first female diocesan bishop has spoken of her hope of helping women ex-offenders rebuild their lives and self-esteem in a new short film recorded to mark International Women’s Day earlier this week.

Full article.

Mothers’ Union calls for women’s voices to be heard in peace, reconciliation

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 4:34pm

To coincide with International Women’s Day, the Mothers’ Union has issued a statement urging more involvement for women in peace negotiations.

Full statement, via Anglican Communion News Services.

Bishop of Gloucester raises issue of gender equality at House of Lords

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 4:29pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church of England’s first female diocesan bishop, Bishop of Gloucester Rachel Treweek, has marked International Women’s Day on March 8 with an event to promote gender equality. The gathering, at Britain’s upper chamber of parliament, the House of Lords, was hosted by Bishop Treweek in partnership with Christian Aid and Restored – an international Christian alliance working to transform relationships and end violence against women.

Full article.

RIP: Melinda Whalon

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 8:31am

From the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe website

[The Living Church] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will preside at the funeral March 11 for Melinda Whalon, who died Feb. 26.

“My beloved wife Melinda Whalon entered Larger Life … after another long battle in her decades-long war against cancer,” wrote the Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, bishop in charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, on his Facebook page. “It did not conquer her in the end; it was an infection that she could no longer fight off.”

The burial office is scheduled for 3 p.m. March 11 in the colonial churchyard of St. George’s, Indian River Hundred, Harbeson, Delaware. The Whalons have visited Delaware each summer since 1991.

A post on Bishop Whalon’s Facebook page added: “Bishop Pierre and daughter Marie-Noêlle are holding up. They are overwhelmed with thankfulness for the many of you who have reached out to them since the news went out yesterday. There has been an outpouring of sympathy from people from throughout the world. As you know +Pierre and Melinda are loved by so many people everywhere. And Melinda touched so many in a special way. Do continue to keep +Pierre and Marie-Noêlle in your prayers. They have very much appreciated your reaching out to them in various ways, although they are not always able to get back to everyone right away.”

A memorial celebration is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. March 29 at the American Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Paris.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for gifts to the AROSAT Association, which supports Dr. Thierry André’s research on digestive cancers, including those associated with Lynch Syndrome. For a tax receipt in France, visit the association’s donation webpage and add the memo Ce don en mémoire de Melinda Whalon est fléché pour le service d’oncologie du Pr André–Hôpital Saint-Antoine, Paris.

In the United States, send donations to ARCAD US, c/o Gilda Herndon, 1613 30th St. N.W., Apt 3N, Washington DC 20007, and add the memo To the memory of Melinda Whalon.

Presiding Bishop visits the Diocese of Taiwan

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 2:48pm

[Episcopal News Service – Taipei, Taiwan] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry brought the message of the Jesus Movement to the Episcopal Diocese of Taiwan during its recent Diocesan Synod, Feb. 24-26, telling Taiwanese Episcopalians to “follow Jesus in the Episcopal way.”

“If you follow in the way of Jesus and your life begins to reflect his life and if he is the perfect image of God, the more your life reflects his life, the more you actually reflect the image of God in you and you become who God created you to be. And when you do that you are free,” said Curry during a Feb. 25 address to synod attendees gathered at St. John’s Cathedral in Taipei.

“To follow Jesus is not to become someone else; it’s to become who God intended you to be in the beginning,” he said

Prayer, fasting, self-denial, reading and studying scripture, special acts of devotion and piety that serve others in the world have, for thousands of years, drawn people to God and to each, Curry said, inviting those present to adopt those practices this Lent.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Taiwan Bishop David Jung-Hsin Lai concelebrate the Eucharist during a service at St. John’s Cathedral in Taipei. Photo: Catherine Lee

Over a three-day visit, Curry preached and concelebrated at Eucharist during the synod’s opening and closing sessions at St. John’s Cathedral; gave a keynote address focused on “The Meaning and Significance of a Christian University in the 21st Century” to students at St. John University; addressed the diocese’s clergy, lay leaders and standing committee members attending the synod and held a Q&A session. (The video of the presiding bishop preaching at the synod’s opening leads the post, the closing sermon follows at the end. Both sermons were interpreted by Tim Pan into Mandarin.  A blog post by Catherine Lee, an Anglican missionary serving in Taiwan, including photo gallery is here.)

When Taiwan Bishop David Jung-Hsin Lai heard the presiding bishop would be visiting Asia, he worked with Peter Ng, the church’s officer for Asia and the Pacific, now retired, to schedule a diocesan visit onto the end of the trip. It’s important for Episcopalians and Christians in Taiwan, to hear the Curry’s message about the Jesus Movement, said Lai, following the presiding bishop’s sermon at the close of the synod.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry signed the guestbook at St. John’s Cathedral in Taipei during at Feb. 24-26 visit to the Diocese of Taiwan. Photo: Catherine Lee

Lai, the Rev. Lily Chang, of St. James’ in Taichung West District said, encourages Episcopalians to be Christians in the world, not just in the church.

“The bishop tells us, ‘we are a minority, don’t just hide in church. Lift up your head and bring love to the people,’’’ said Chang, who was excited to hear the presiding bishop preach about the Jesus Movement.

An estimated 4.5 percent of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people identify as Christians, roughly half Protestant and half Roman Catholic. The Anglican Church reached Taiwan in the late 1890s; Episcopal chaplains brought the Episcopal Church to Taiwan when they ministered to American soldiers after World War II. The Diocese of Taiwan achieved full-diocesan status in 1988 and is part of Province VIII; the House of Bishops held its fall 2014 meeting in Taipei.

Taiwan was the presiding bishop’s last stop on a Feb. 15-27 tour of Asia and Southeast Asia that included visits to the Anglican Provinces of the Philippines and Hong Kong, and the Protestant Christian Church in China.

Ng; the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond The Episcopal Church; the Rev. David Copley, director of global partnerships and mission personnel; Neva Rae Fox, the church’s public affairs officer; and Sharon Jones, executive assistant to the presiding bishop, accompanied Curry on trip to Asia and Southeast Asia.

Mark Dazzo to succeed Davis Perkins as Church Publishing’s publisher

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 11:49am

[Church Pension Group press release] The Church Pension Group (CPG), a financial services organization that serves the Episcopal Church, announced March 8 that Mark Dazzo, vice president, global marketing and sales of Church Publishing Inc. will succeed Davis Perkins as senior vice president and publisher of CPI effective April 1.

Perkins, who will retire on March 31, has been instrumental in guiding CPI through numerous organizational transitions over the past 10 years. CPI serves as the publisher of official worship materials, books, music, and digital ministry resources for the Episcopal Church. Dazzo will report directly to Daniel Kasle, chief financial officer and treasurer of CPG.

“We are fortunate that Mark, a member of the CPI leadership team, will be stepping in to fill this role,” said Kasle. “He is extremely talented, and his appointment will ensure a seamless transition as we continue to focus on growing the business, improving operational efficiencies, and meeting the publishing needs of the Episcopal Church. I also want to thank Davis for his dedication and important contributions to CPI over the past 10 years. We wish him the very best in his retirement.”

In his current role, Dazzo is responsible for developing and implementing a marketing and sales strategy for CPI’s product lines, including advertising, promotion, sales, and global distribution. Prior to this, he was vice president of marketing at Pearson@School/Pearson Education and served as director of marketing and market development at Random House, Inc. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the State University of New York, Albany, and an MBA in Marketing from Baruch College.

About Church Publishing Inc.
Founded in 1918, Church Publishing Inc. is the publisher of official worship materials, books, music, and digital ministry resources for the Episcopal Church and is also a multi-faceted publisher and supplier to the broader ecumenical marketplace.

About The Church Pension Fund
The Church Pension Fund is an independent financial services organization that
serves the Episcopal Church. With approximately $12 billion in assets, CPF and
its affiliated companies, collectively the Church Pension Group (CPG),
provide retirement, health, and life insurance benefits to clergy and lay employees
of the Episcopal Church. CPG also offers property and casualty insurance as well
as book and music publishing, including the official worship materials of the
Episcopal Church.

Renew Our World campaign focuses Lenten prayer, action on climate change

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 11:41am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The start of Lent saw the beginning of a new international campaign – Renew Our World – in which tens of thousands of Christians from six countries will join together in prayer and action to try to tackle climate change.

Renew Our World is campaigning for clean renewable energy and sustainable agriculture for the world’s poorest communities. The campaign is taking place in Britain, the United States, Australia, Zambia, Peru and Nigeria and is being launched by The Anglican Alliance, Tearfund, Micah Global, TEAR Australia, Micah Zambia, EU-CORD, Peace and Hope International (Paz y Esperanza) & CAFOD.

Anglican primates of Oceania speak out on climate change

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 11:36am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican primates of Oceania, who have been meeting in Australia, have warned of the threat to their region from climate change. In a joint statement, the five primates said: “We agreed that as whole nations of ocean people lose their island homes, climate justice advocacy and action must become the most urgent priority for Oceanic Anglicans.”

Full article.

Episcopal, Chinese church relationship strengthened through visit

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 6:15pm

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Minister Wang Zuo’an of the State Administration for Religious Affairs and their staffs posed for a photograph on at SARA’s headquarters following a Feb. 21 meeting in Beijing. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Beijing and Shanghai] It was building friendships and strengthening relationships that characterized the Most Rev. Michael Curry’s first official visit as presiding bishop and primate to Asia and Southeast Asia last month, including in China where he and his staff met with government officials and leaders of the Protestant Christian Church.

“At its root, the Christian way is a way of relationship in Christ. Jesus said wherever two or three gather together in my name, there I am,” said Curry, in an interview with Episcopal News Service in Shanghai, when asked why it’s important for the Episcopal Church to maintain close ties with China.

“The New Testament talks about the body of Christ, not the individuals of Christ. When we talk about being one holy catholic and apostolic church [we talk about] a worldwide network of people who are committed to and in relationship with Jesus Christ and therefore, through him, with each other.”

During a February visit to Asia and Southeast Asia to visit Anglican Communion provincial churches and Episcopal Diocese of Taiwan, Curry visited China at the invitation of the China Christian Council (CCC) and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM). He attended meetings in Beijing and Shanghai, where he met with the minister of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), the Chinese government agency that oversees religious practice, and CCC/TSPM leaders, including Elder Fu Xianwei.

Peter Ng, the Episcopal Church’s officer for Asia and the Pacific, now retired; the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond The Episcopal Church; the Rev. David Copley, director of global partnerships and mission personnel; Neva Rae Fox, the church’s public affairs officer; and Sharon Jones, executive assistant to the presiding bishop, accompanied Curry on the Feb. 15-27 trip that also included stops in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The CCC and TSPM form the official, government-sanctioned Protestant church in China. “Three-Self” stands for self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating; TSPM serves as a liaison between churches and government, while CCC focuses on church affairs.

SARA serves as a bridge between religion and the central government and coordinates relationships among religions to make them all equal. Besides overseeing the TSPM, SARA also oversees an additional four sanctioned religious groups: Muslims, Roman Catholics, Buddhists and Taoists.

During a Feb. 21 meeting at SARA’s headquarters in Beijing, Minister Wang Zuo’an said maintaining “religious harmony” as religion grows is one his department’s priorities.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Elder Fu Xianwei and their staffs posed for a photograph Feb. 22 in the former Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral on the campus of the National Office of China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement in Shanghai, China. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

China has no history of religious conflict; politics and religion have been kept separate, and no one religion has been “more powerful” than another, explained Wang. In today’s world, with its increased focused on nationalism, increasing competition for resources, religious conflict and extremism, “how they can stay in harmony and work together is a big challenge,” he said, speaking in Mandarin through an interpreter.

Another challenge, said Wang, is the U.S. government’s inclusion of China as a “special attention” country in an annual report on International Religious Freedom.

“I sincerely hope the presiding bishop could use his influence to make a positive push for constructive dialogue between the two governments,” he said.

Wang also cited concern over an executive order on “religious freedom” expected from President Donald Trump’s administration.

“China and U.S. relations are going from good to bad, and this matters to the whole world,” said Wang, adding that while it’s expected that countries the size of the United States and China will have differences, they should also engage on issues of common interest. He cited religion as a potential issue of common interest, not a divisive issue.

“We should take religion as a good thing for our two countries, not a problem,” he said, adding differences concerning religion preceded the Trump administration. It’s also his sincere hope, he added, that the churches “can have a normal, healthy relationship.”

Curry responded with a promise that the Episcopal Church and the CCC/TSPM would remain strong and that the two churches would continue to work together.

“My conviction for us to continue to live together when Clinton, Bush and Obama were president, and it is still true with President Trump,” said Curry, during the Feb. 21 meeting. “We’re going to work so that we can live and work together.

“Your words,” he said to Wang, “speak to my heart and what I believe. I thank you for sharing honestly.” To which Wang replied, “it’s only through conversation that we can understand each other better. I appreciate that you said no matter who the president is, our relationship will not change.”

Elder Fu Xianwei, chair of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China, addressed Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and his staff during a Feb. 22 meeting at the National Office of China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement in Shanghai, China. To Fu’s left are Gu Mengfei, TSPM’s associate secretary general and director of the CCC’s research department, and Elder Ou Enlin, director of overseas relations for the CCC/TSPM. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Christianity is growing faster than seminaries can train theologians, said Wang, and it’s in that respect that the Protestant Christian Church in China needs continued support from the Episcopal Church.

In a country of 1.4 billion people, the number of Protestant Christians has grown an average 10 percent annually in China since 1979.  Though Chinese Christians are “post-denomination,” they still identify as Protestants and Roman Catholics, the latter of which the government’s Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, not the pope, is the supreme authority.

Christianity first reached mainland China in the seventh century during the Tang dynasty but didn’t begin to flourish until the 19th century. In 1949, Mao Zedong banned the religion. It didn’t resurge until after his death in 1976 and the end of the Cultural Revolution. Now, with the communist central government’s sanction and oversight, Protestant Christianity is on the rise.

For example, explained Fu of the CCC, the Protestant Christian church baptizes between 400,000 and 500,000 new believers annually; there are approximately 60,000 congregations served by 57,000 pastors (an average of one pastor per 700 members) and 200,000 lay leaders. And in recent years, the church has attracted professionals, doctors and lawyers, which has led to a demand for higher quality pastoral care.

Even though the church is nondenominational, the liturgy reflects influences from Anglican to Seventh-day Adventist, said Fu.

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry addressed Elder Fu Xianwei, chair of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China, and his staff during a Feb. 22 meeting at the National Office of China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement in Shanghai, China. To Curry’s left is Peter Ng, The Episcopal Church’s officer for Asia and the Pacific, now retired, and to his right is the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond The Episcopal Church; and Neva Rae Fox, the church’s public affairs officer. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

The Episcopal Church’s and the Chinese church’s relationship started with Bishop K.H. Ting, who trained in the Anglican tradition at Union Theological Seminary in New York, served as long-time principal of the board of directors of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, and in 1955 became the bishop of Zhejiang until the Cultural Revolution. In 1980, he became the president of the CCC; in 1985, he helped found the Amity Foundation, one of the first nongovernmental organizations and the first faith-based one established to address society’s social needs. The foundation also includes Amity Printing Co., which prints 4 million copies of the Bible and various spiritual and devotional books annually.

Despite changes in religious practice since the opening of China, some people still default to the Cold-War narrative.

“Americans remember Christians smuggling Bibles into China and behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe … all of that was a story at one time. Now they’re printing more Bibles in China than probably anywhere else in the world,” said Curry. “At Amity, they are printing Bibles and religious literature to teach and educate and form their folk; it’s extraordinary.”

Christians in the United States could learn a lot about evangelism from Christians in China, he added.

“Bishop Ting helped Christians learn to be faithful to the gospel and authentically indigenous to China, and China as it was emerging. Now what that meant was that he helped the Chinese Church become authentically Christian and authentically Chinese. Bishop Ting is revered and respected as one of the leaders in Chinese Christianity. He clearly believed in evangelism, and he believed in Chinese evangelism, in their way, not a Western cultural way.

“Part of what we sometimes struggle within the United States, from my perspective, is a kind of evangelism that is less about a relationship with Jesus of Nazareth that you find in the New Testament, and more about being part of American culture or a set of preconceived ideas that are imposed upon Christianity that aren’t necessarily what Jesus of Nazareth was talking about,” Curry continued. “He (Ting) has shown us a way to get people into an authentic relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. That is a way of evangelism; it seems to me, and (an) Anglican way of evangelism.”

Since the United Kingdom’s 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China, the Anglican Province of Hong Kong, Sheng Kung Hui, has worked to strengthen relationships with Protestant Christians on the mainland and has worked with the Episcopal Church to strengthen its relationship with Protestant Christians in China, said Robertson, the presiding bishop’s canon for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church.

The Chinese church receives support from the Anglican Province of Hong Kong, which has helped to train the faculty at the seminary in Nanjing, whose students have studied in Hong Kong.

That relationship continues, said the Rev. Peter Koon, provincial secretary of the Anglican Province of Hong Kong.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Elder Fu Xianwei, chair of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China, embraced following a gift exchange during a meeting Feb. 22 at the National Office of China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement in Shanghai, China. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“The church in Hong Kong is providing anything they need: resources and training and relationship,” said Koon, in an interview with ENS in Shanghai. “The Episcopal Church can provide theological training and support for social welfare projects … they need friends to understand what they are doing and support them.”

In his meetings and a dinner with the leadership of the CCC and the TSPM, Curry assured Fu and others that he would continue to work with them, just as his predecessor the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori did when she visited China in 2012. As for Curry and Fu, who attended Curry’s installation as presiding bishop in November 2015, the two related as old friends.

“Christianity here is vibrant, it is alive, it is really alive, and these are our brothers and sisters,” said Curry. “And we use the language of partnership, but more than partnership, a genuine friendship. And we sing that hymn, ‘In Christ, there is no East or West,’ and in Christ, there really isn’t.”

– Lynette Wilson is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service.

San Joaquin overwhelmingly elects David Cappel Rice diocesan bishop

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 4:16pm

Provisional Bishop David Rice celebrates the Eucharist during a March 4 special convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin during which he was elected diocesan bishop. Photo: Robert Woods/Diocese of San Joaquin

[Episcopal News Service] Delegates to a special convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin overwhelmingly voted March 4 to elect Provisional Bishop David Cappel Rice as their diocesan bishop.

Rice was the only nominee.  He was elected on the first ballot by a vote of 21 to 1 in the clergy order and 41 to 2 in the lay order. The election required a two-thirds majority in both orders. The somewhat unusual election was both joyous and powerful, he said.

“I believe the people of the Diocese of San Joaquin know ever increasingly that they are on a hikoi (intentional movement with a purpose [a word from Maori, the indigenous language of New Zealand]) and they have come to realize and celebrate my willingness, better said, call to walk, run, cycle, move with them,” Rice said in an email to the Episcopal News Service following the election.

“As for my own feeling and response, I couldn’t imagine a group of people with whom I’d rather share this hikoi of faith.”

Cindy Smith, president of the standing committee, said the move, made possible through adoption of a new canon at the diocese’s October convention, represented not only a commitment to each other, but also a commitment to continued ministry to the people of California’s Central Valley.

“We’re going forward and not to just survive but to thrive,” Smith said in a telephone interview March 6. “There is so much to be done now in the Central Valley of California with issues of trafficking, immigration, and a very high percentage of the population incarcerated.”

The Rev. Canon Anna Carmichael said the gathering, the first major event since 2007  held at St. James Episcopal Cathedral, also represented, for many, a homecoming. About 200 people attended the event.

“It was wonderful, a great homecoming for many folks because it was their first time at the cathedral since the schism happened ten years ago,” said Carmichael, diocesan canon to the ordinary.

“We were able to do a blessing of the space as our coming home experience. We had a wonderful Eucharist, and a presentation on stewardship and then we took the vote and did all the necessary procedural things. It was a lovely gathering.”

Smith said consent packages soon will be mailed to dioceses throughout the Episcopal Church, A majority of both the Episcopal Church’s diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction will have to consent to Rice’s election as diocesan, as is required in all bishop elections.

Rice was elected the diocese’s third provisional bishop in March 2014. Prior to that he had served as the bishop of the Diocese of Waiapu in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. A North Carolina native, Rice had also been a Methodist pastor for eight years prior to his ordination in the Anglican Church in New Zealand.

Retired Diocese of Northern California Bishop Jerry Lamb and retired Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Chet Talton, Rice’s predecessors, worked with Episcopalians to reconstitute the diocese. That work included both litigation over church property and pastoral work over pain the split caused.

Within that context, “to elect a bishop that we can call our own and who calls us his, is really powerful and meaningful for this diocese,” Carmichael said. “It was historic.”

She added that San Joaquin Episcopalians are hoping for a speedy and smooth consent process.

“We are hosting one of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s revivals in November, and it is our hope that, provided the larger church affirms this call and affirms the vote that we took, that Bishop David will be seated as our bishop while the presiding bishop is here.”

The revival is planned for Nov. 17-19, she said.

–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.

Leslie Nunez Steffensen named canon to the bishop suffragan for the armed forces and federal ministries

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 2:54pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Rev. Leslie Nunez Steffensen has been named the canon to the Episcopal Church bishop suffragan for the armed forces and federal ministries, a member of the presiding bishop’s staff.

In this full-time position, Steffensen works with Bishop Carl Wright, bishop suffragan for the armed forces and federal ministries and among her duties are the direct administrative support of Episcopal priests who serve as federal chaplains in the armed forces, veterans affairs hospital centers and federal bureau of prisons.  She assists the bishop suffragan in the recruitment, support and care of these chaplains.

“This ministry to our federal chaplains draws upon my experience in the U.S. Navy, upon hard-won knowledge as a military spouse, upon my international experience, and upon my priesthood,” said Steffensen. “The Episcopal Church currently has 110 federal chaplains stationed all around the world. I am honored to serve and support my fellow priests in their call to ministry in difficult settings, whether at sea on a battleship, on a battlefield, at a remote duty station, in a prison, or in a hospital.”

After graduating from officer candidate school and completing studies at the Navy and Marine Intelligence Training Center in 1989, she was on active duty for four years as a naval aviation intelligence officer, “chasing Soviet submarines at the end of the Cold War,” she adds. Steffensen later served as a volunteer for mission, the Episcopal Church’s program for adult volunteers. She was the academic dean and instructor of theology and biblical studies at Msalato Theological College in Dodoma, Tanzania.

Most recently, she was assistant to the rector at Grace Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Prior to that, she was administrative coordinator for the Center for Anglican Communion Studies at Virginia Theological Seminary.

For the Episcopal Church, she served on the Bishop for Armed Forces and Federal Ministries Interviewing Committee; the Disciplinary Committee, Diocese of Virginia; and co-editor for The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to the Anglican Communion.

She is a graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary, with a master’s in divinity and a master’s in theological studies; and The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, with a bachelor’s in international studies.

Steffensen is based in Washington, D.C. She can be contacted at lsteffensen@episcopalchurch.org.

Samuel Rodman elected bishop of Diocese of North Carolina, succeeding Michael Curry

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 2:12pm

[Diocese of North Carolina] The Rev. Samuel Rodman was elected XII bishop diocesan of the Diocese of North Carolina on March 4.

He was elected on the third ballot by the delegates gathered for a Special Electing Convention in Phillips Chapel at Canterbury School in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Samuel Rodman is scheduled to be ordained and consecrated as the bishop diocesan of the Diocese of North Carolina on July 15. Photo: Diocese of North Carolina

“I am deeply honored and grateful and, with God’s help, I accept this call to be your next bishop diocesan,” Rodman said. “The prospect of following and building upon the leadership and legacy of Bishop Michael Curry is both humbling and inspiring. I trust that the Holy Spirit, moving through the Diocese of North Carolina, will continue to light the way and guide our path together.”

Rodman currently serves as the special projects officer for the Diocese of Massachusetts, a role he took on after spending five years as the diocesan project manager for campaign initiatives, where he engaged congregations, clergy and laity, in collaborative local and global mission through the Together Now campaign, helping to raise $20 million to fund these initiatives. Prior to that, Rodman spent 16 years as the rector of St. Michael’s in Milton, Massachusetts, during which the parish established a seven-year plan that included a capital campaign for a major renovation of the church building.

The election is the culmination of a process that began when the Diocese of North Carolina’s former bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, was elected presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church at the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, in June 2015. Since his installation in November 2015, the diocese has been led by the Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple; elected bishop suffragan in the Diocese of North Carolina in 2013, she has served as bishop diocesan pro tempore during the extensive search.

Four nominees were a part of the search process. In addition to Rodman, the other three candidates were:

  • The Rev. George Adamik – St. Paul’s, Cary, North Carolina
  • The Rev. Charles T. Dupree – Trinity Episcopal Church, Bloomington, Indiana
  • The Rev. Canon Michael Buerkel Hunn – The Episcopal Church, New York, New York

Following the announcement of the final slate, Rodman and his fellow candidates spent a great deal of time sharing information with the people of North Carolina, including personal statements, biographies, theological reflections and a Q&A. The candidates each created an introductory video to share, and then took part in a series of virtual town halls, whereby each candidate was live online for an hour, answering questions submitted by people from around the diocese. The finale came when the candidates arrived in North Carolina to do a 12-stop tour around the state, taking part in panel discussions or town halls at each one.

Ordained in 1988, Rodman is a graduate of Bates College and Virginia Theological Seminary. He is married to Deborah Rodman, and they are the parents of two adult daughters. In his free time, Rodman enjoys basketball, golf, kayaking, walking his dog, crosswords and creative writing.

The Diocese of North Carolina is comprised of 48,000 people gathered into 112 congregations and nine campus ministries throughout 38 counties in the central part of North Carolina. The diocesan vision is to be a community of disciples committed to following Jesus Christ into the dream of God.

Pending the canonically required consent of a majority of the Episcopal Church’s diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction, Rodman will be ordained and consecrated as the XII Bishop Diocesan of the Diocese of North Carolina on July 15 at the Duke University Chapel in Durham, North Carolina.

Tiny house ‘village’ for homeless developing with help of Montana church

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 10:34am

A sketch of the proposed Housing First Village shows tiny houses grouped around a community resource center. Photo: Montana State University School of Architecture

[Episcopal News Service] A coalition of Episcopalians, architecture students and social service providers in Bozeman, Montana, are in the middle of an innovative project that aims to address homelessness in the city – 155 square feet at a time.

The concept is a village of tiny houses for the chronically homeless centered around a community resource center, where residents could receive counseling, medical assistance and employment help until they are able to move into permanent homes. Organizers still are looking for an appropriate site, but most of the other pieces of the project are falling into place as other groups and individuals in the community rally behind the idea.

“Suddenly, this coalition has risen up that is excited about what we wanted to do,” said the Rev. Connie Pearson-Campbell, a deacon at St. James Episcopal Church in Bozeman who is one of the driving forces behind the planned Housing First Village.

Sara Savage, housing director at Human Resource Development Council, or HRDC, called Pearson-Campbell a “PR hurricane” in drumming up support for the project. HRDC, a nonprofit community action agency, brings to the table years of experience proving shelter and services to the local homeless population.

Montana State University is the third key player in the coalition. The School of Architecture created a course last fall in which students designed the tiny houses, and subsequent courses this year will help move the project through the regulatory and construction phases.

“We realize it’s probably a couple of years, or at least a year, before we’d be able to move the first units onto a site,” architecture professor Ralph Johnson said. “These things don’t happen overnight. But we’re moving faster than most of the communities” that have attempted similar projects.

Tiny houses are a big trend in the home-building world and in popular culture. Multiple reality TV shows have popped up to feature these small living spaces, even prompting some in the tiny house industry to debate whether such shows are good or bad for the “movement.”

In that context, tiny houses are seen as a hip way to downsize your living space, but some communities, such as St. George, Utah, and Seattle , have shown that tiny houses can be tools for outreach to homeless or low-income populations.

The Episcopal Church has its own share of examples. St. James Episcopal Church on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota used a United Tank Offering grant to build tiny houses for students. And St. John’s Episcopal Church in St. Cloud, Minnesota, built a single tiny house to accommodate one homeless person on its property.

What makes Pearson-Campbell and St. James Episcopal Church unique is they represent one leg of a three-legged stool supporting a mission that came together almost by accident.

About 150 people are estimated to be homeless on any given night in Bozeman, and 30 percent are considered chronically homeless, a condition often tied to mental illness, substance abuse or other personal challenges, Savage said. Survival on the streets can be precarious, especially in Montana’s harsh winter months, and six homeless people were reported to have died in 2016 in Bozeman.

The HRDC had been housing about 10 people at a time at a transitional living space called Amos House, but it was forced to close last July after losing a federal grant. St. James stepped up and offered an unused home on church property, called Canterbury House, allowing HRDC to convert it to housing for up to four homeless women.

“I have to say, having one of our local faith-based partners look within their own resources … was so powerful and really made a direct impact on homeless women within a month,” Savage said.

Separately, Pearson-Campbell said, she heard last summer from a friend about a tiny houses project in Detroit, and it got her thinking about trying something similar to address Bozeman’s homelessness problem.

“I took one look at that and thought, oh my gosh, I think we can do this in Bozeman,” she said.

She brought the idea up in a meeting with the city planning director in August. On her way out, she just happened to pass Johnson, the Montana State professor, who was on his way in to talk to the planning director on an unrelated matter. After introductions, a tiny house partnership quickly was formed.

Johnson took the idea back to the university and, with two other professors, created the course that fall in which 12 students took on the task of designing the tiny houses.

“I knew that within the School of Architecture there’s a strong moral ethic among students,” he said. “And so based upon Connie’s personality and her aspirations, I offered a class in small shelters for the city of Bozeman.”

The result was two models, each just 155 square feet or a bit larger. One was designed to be accessible to people with disabilities. Each model featured a single bed, storage area, a shower and toilet, a compact refrigerator, a microwave, a sink and space for a chair.

Residents could receive counseling, medical assistance and employment help until they are able to move into permanent homes. Photo: Montana State University School of Architecture

The students then created full-scale mockups from cardboard and tested them, including by inviting members of the homeless community inside. The semester concluded with an open house in December. More than 100 people came to see the models and learn about the project, Johnson said.

Six students will build the first of the tiny houses in a new course this semester that also will address some of the regulatory hurdles. Bozeman’s building code, like building codes in many cities across the country, includes restrictions on lot usage, dwelling size and home layout that don’t easily accommodate tiny houses, Johnson said. His students will research options that can be presented to city officials.

And then there is the challenge of finding an appropriate site for what eventually could be dozens of tiny houses and the community resource center. Savage doesn’t have any definite timeline for securing a site. Factors include cost, zoning and proximity to other residences.

“Should the right parcel become available, we’d be able to move rather quickly,” Savage said. “But it will require some alignment of the stars, as it does with any major project like this.”

As for construction cost, the materials needed to build each tiny house are estimated at $10,000 – or less, if any materials are donated.

St. James has committed enough money to build one of the houses, and one of Pearson-Campbell’s tasks is to enlist more churches and community groups to give money or even assemble one of the houses themselves as a service project. Johnson’s students eventually hope to develop assembly instructions that will make it easy for those groups to build the houses themselves, similar to an IKEA furniture kit, Johnson said.

The moral ethic Johnson sees in many of his students often materializes as a desire to build energy-efficient buildings, he said, but this project is built on a sense of social responsibility.

“If this can give those who are homeless an opportunity to resolve the issues that place them in a homeless circumstance, we owe it to them to give them that opportunity,” he said.

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

Gambia bishop gives thanks for peace after election tension

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 10:18am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop James Odico of The Gambia has expressed thanksgiving for a peaceful outcome after the tensions surrounding a presidential election in December. The election marked the first change of presidency in The Gambia since a military coup in 1994.

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Bishops blanket diocese in England for 4 days of mission

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 10:16am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Twenty five bishops and their teams from the northern half of The Church of England, led by Archbishop of York John Sentamu, have taken part in four days of mission and celebration called “Talking Jesus.” The bishops and their teams went out into communities in all corners of the diocese, talking about Jesus at more than 450 community events. The mission came to a close at a service of celebration at Durham Cathedral on Sunday.

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