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Europe bishop represents Anglicans, Episcopalians at launch of Interfaith Rainforest Initiative in Norway

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 2:09pm

[Episcopal News Service] Religious and indigenous leaders from across the globe launched an unprecedented initiative June 19 in Oslo, Norway, aimed at bringing “moral attention and spiritual commitment” to bear on global efforts to end deforestation and protect tropical rainforests—forests that are fundamental to human life, the planet’s health and reducing the emissions fueling climate change.

“The Norwegian government has made major investments in protecting the rainforest, but this is the first attempt to bring together religious leaders, scientists and indigenous peoples,” the Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, said from Oslo in a telephone interview with Episcopal News Service.

Whalon helped organize the conference and was scheduled to speak during a June 19 dinner. Indigenous people from across Africa, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Indonesia have joined Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Daoist and Buddhist religious leaders for the June 19-21 launch of the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative aimed at framing rainforest protection in moral terms.

The conference is meant to “change minds and hearts and get people working together,” said Whalon. The urgency is clear, he added, from the stories shared by indigenous people living in the rainforest and from satellite images.

“Rainforest destruction is not just tearing down all the trees and turning into soy fields. It’s literally ethnic cleansing,” said Whalon. There’s a real moral and spiritual imperative to protecting the rainforest. Conference organizers made sure to give indigenous peoples a chance to share their stories from the front lines, and what they have to say will “curl your hair,” he said.

Palm oil plantations; cattle, soy and other crop production, and illegal mining and logging operations are destroying tropical rainforests in South America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia at high rates. Rainforests are home to indigenous people; provide food, water and income to 1.6 billion people; contain most of the planet’s land-borne biodiversity; help regulate rainfall and temperature globally, regionally and locally, and store billions of tons of carbon, which is essential for curbing global warming.

“The world’s rainforests are a stunning example of the life-sustaining beauty of the planet; they are spectacular, vital to life and at grave risk. This meeting represents a tremendously important first step forward for faith communities, who must join First Peoples and commit to rainforests’ health and restoration,” said the Rev. Fletcher Harper, an Episcopal priest based in New Jersey and the executive director of GreenFaith, in a press release.

Religious and indigenous leaders from 21 countries will have discussions with forest advocates, climate scientists and human rights experts to develop goals and actions, along with milestones to mark their progress. They expect to follow up with an action plan and a global interfaith rainforest summit in 2018. The group was convened by Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, Rainforest Foundation Norway and the United Nations Development Program in cooperation with the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University, GreenFaith, the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Religions for Peace, REIL Network and the World Council of Churches.

The rainforest initiative is linked to a surge of grassroots action over the last few years in which environmental, climate and indigenous rights issues are being embraced as spiritual imperatives that strike a chord with multiple faiths and traditions. Other leaders of Evangelical Christian and Muslim organizations, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, have stressed the shared human responsibility to protect the planet.

“Tropical rainforests occupy a sacred place in many faiths, religions and spiritual traditions,” said Mary Evelyn Tucker, director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University, in a press release. “Indeed, spiritual reverence for nature and all life can be found across the world’s religions, including among indigenous peoples and other residents of the world’s tropical rainforests. Given what we are hearing from religious and indigenous leaders worldwide, we believe we can create a global movement around this shared vision.”

Whalon became involved in the conference’s planning because of previous involvement in roundtable discussions related to the environment and communicating the message of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and human ecology. He was invited into the roundtable discussions following the December 2015 U.N. climate negotiations in France, when he and American Cathedral in Paris Dean Lucinda Laird organized several events for conference attendees.

‘Cathedral of the Confederacy’ reckons with its history and charts future

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 2:06pm

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia, has historically been known as the Cathedral of the Confederacy. Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Photo: Courtesy of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

[Episcopal News Service – Richmond, Virginia] Looking around the sanctuary of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church here nothing suggests an altered space. Enough plaques, stained-glass windows, wall sconces and other adornments remain that the sanctuary is anything but bare. Its columns, deep-red pew cushions and the Tiffany Last Supper mosaic above the altar offer much for the eye to behold. And although St. Paul’s has long been known as the Cathedral of the Confederacy, the space feels cozier than a cathedral. The ceiling and walls hug close. When congregants huddle near the altar for a ceramic-cup and rustic-bread communion at the 9 a.m. service, it feels as right as the church’s later, more staid liturgy.

But when Linda Armstrong, who chairs St. Paul’s History and Reconciliation Initiative, pointed to the three spots where plaques used to be – two in the sanctuary and one in the narthex – on a Saturday in late April, the emptiness left by a Confederate past becomes apparent; each a blank spot amidst the visual richness, awaiting its fate.

St. Paul’s Rector the Rev. Wallace Adams-Riley, left, with Barbara Holley, a member of the History and Reconciliation Initiative’s steering committee and its Memorials Working Group. Photo: Heather Beasley Doyle

The History and Reconciliation Initiative germinated in the wake of shooter Dylann Roof’s racially motivated attack on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. On a Sunday soon after the June 17, 2015, massacre, the Rev. Wallace Adams-Riley, St. Paul’s rector, asked in a sermon, “What if in this, the last summer of the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, we begin a conversation here at St. Paul’s about the Confederate symbols in our worship space?”

That question could not have come from just any pulpit. And coming from where Adams-Riley stood, in the sanctuary of the Cathedral of the Confederacy, it made waves. “I thought it was very important that it be done with a tone of seriousness and invitation, to invite our people to lean into this moment in a discerning way,” said Adams-Riley. “It quickly became clear to me that there was some anxiety.”

Richmond was the capitol of the Confederacy during the American Civil War; Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, worshipped at St. Paul’s during the war. Davis was a member of the church. Their pews still bear plaques attesting to their affiliation with the church, and stained-glass windows dedicated to them allow light into the sanctuary. In the 1890s, when it became popular to memorialize family members with sanctuary wall plaques, several sprung up in St. Paul’s honoring Confederate soldiers, some decorated with Confederate battle flags. Additional battle flags had been embroidered into the kneelers by the altar.

Adams-Riley’s question called for parishioners to pay attention. Small and spread out, the battle flags were hidden in plain sight; many people had never even noticed them. “I’d been here for 45 years and had never read the plaques,” said St. Paul’s member Lee Switz, who chairs the History and Reconciliation Initiative’s Memorial Working Group.

A plaque honoring Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, is one of the items St. Paul’s removed from its walls. Photo: Courtesy of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Now those Confederate battle flags are gone, removed after a November 2015 vestry vote, a decision that followed several tabled discussions on the topic. At the same time, the vestry also voted only to keep Confederate-related memorials without the battle flag, including plaques paid for by the families of congregants who fought in the Civil War. Moreover, the governing body established the History and Reconciliation Initiative, appointing vestry member Armstrong as chair. She has since spearheaded the parish’s deep dive into its history and its relationship with race since its 1845 founding. The History and Reconciliation Initiative has laid out a four-year plan to be completed in 2020, when the church marks its 175th anniversary.

In parsing out what to leave in the sanctuary and what to remove, “we have really considered those families,” said Armstrong. In looking at a plaque, she remembered that “this was a human being who was loved by his family; it’s the humanity of it.” By contrast, the battle flag communicates “I believe this is right, and I’m willing to kill you for it, too.” Some flags simply unscrewed from the plaques to which they were affixed. The removed items remain in a vault at the church until their fate, whether becoming part of an exhibit somewhere in the church or a traveling educational display, is determined.

In establishing the History and Reconciliation Initiative, St. Paul’s committed to push its parish conversation beyond the Confederate flag, beyond “Confederate iconography” to what Confederate symbols fundamentally evoke: a national history with thick scars around race. They would look at these scars and at their own part in staunchly defending an economic system based on the subjugation of African-Americans. In fact, the parish took its efforts a step beyond, to racial reconciliation, an attempt to figure out the church’s role in perpetuating racism, recognizing that role, and moving forward with those insights in a way that heals and repairs. “It’s doing some interior work so that we can move out into the world in ways that would not have been possible without that,” Adams-Riley said. “Isn’t that [also] true on an individual level?” And while Adams-Riley’s June 2015 sermon triggered anxiety, “It was also clear to me that there was great excitement and hope – and possibility,” he said.

St. Paul’s began by hosting two “Prayerful Conversations” in the summer of 2015, and hired an outside consultant to facilitate the events. Of the parish’s 300-400 active members (on average, 200 show up for Sunday services), 100 turned out for those initial events. Adams-Riley and Armstrong agree that hiring a consultant played a crucial role in setting a relaxed tone that invited people to share deeply. The discussions were frank, sometimes emotional, and condoned conversations about race at St. Paul’s. From there, “we didn’t talk about it officially for a couple of months, because it was just too hot,” Associate Rector the Rev. Molly Bosscher said.

Christopher Graham, left, with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Associate Rector the Rev. Molly Bosscher. Graham chairs the History Working Group of St. Paul’s History and Reconciliation Initiative. Photo: Heather Beasley Doyle

Bosscher underscored the interpersonal complexities of a process that aims to give St. Paul’s a new reputation: the Cathedral of Reconciliation. “You understand the enormity of the work, right?” she asked. “It’s changing our very flavor as a church. You could not stop this process now if you tried. It’s too far in bloom.”

As messy as St. Paul’s reconciliation work has sometimes been, the 60-member History and Reconciliation Initiative lends it a framework, a timeline and concrete goals. While Armstrong stressed that the goals are not set in stone, they offer a structure that participants value and respect. “It’s a four-year process, but we do have some deadlines,” said Memorial Working Group chair Lee Switz, “and that gives it a sense of urgency.”

Along with the Memorial Working Group, two more working groups are nestled under the initiative: the History Working Group and the Music & Liturgy Working Group. With the History Working Group’s research as a foundation, the Memorial Working Group and the Music & Liturgy Working Group will determine St. Paul’s visible, audible reconciliation pieces. Revisions are planned to the church’s walking tour brochure, and its 175th anniversary book will be reimagined from the 150th anniversary predecessor.

Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry will visit next March. Prayerful Conversations remain ongoing and the church will hold a special service to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. And in some way, whether by stopping at stations of reconciliation along Richmond’s Slave Trail or with a different ritual, History and Reconciliation Initiative members plan to commemorate African-American slaves in the city that had the second-largest slave market in the United States.

In the meantime, as chair of the Initiative’s History Working Group, Christopher Graham has helped St. Paul’s to discover how racial ideas throughout the church’s history have determined how parishioners live their lives and faith. Originally 20 to 25 members, the History Working Group now has a core of seven active researchers. A historian by profession, Graham gave working group members guidance on what to look for as they research. “And that’s been a remarkable success,” he said.

The group is uncovering the church’s relationship era by era, in five chunks of about 40 years, starting in 1844. They have scoured U.S. Census data, diocesan records, vestry records and private journals. They delve into Newspapers.com and Ancestry.com. And then there are secondary sources, including “Managing White Supremacy: Race, Politics and Citizenship in Jim Crow Virginia” by J. Douglas Smith, which Graham recently read.

Cross-referencing the records from First African Baptist Church and St. Paul’s with census data, the History Working Group has confirmed that from its founding until the Emancipation, most St. Paul’s members “were engaged with slavery or in the slavery economy,” Graham said. This was not surprising. More illuminating has been learning St. Paul’s attitude toward race between the Emancipation and today. While its membership remains overwhelmingly white, in 2017 St. Paul’s is a “liberal” church with longstanding outreach projects and ties to social justice initiatives throughout Richmond, a city that initiative leaders described as more conservative than their church. St. Paul’s members “have always done what they thought was the Christian thing to do,” Armstrong said, “even if they thought it was segregation.”

And for a long time, it was. “At the turn of the 20th century, Episcopalians and other white people were arguing that black people were evolutionarily behind whites,” Graham said. For generations after emancipation, St. Paul’s members participated in a government that enforced Jim Crow and segregation. This mindset continued, Graham suspects, until the early days of the civil rights movement, “and it’s more complicated than ‘we hate them.’ ”

As St. Paul’s “whole story” emerges, the damage done by upholding the racial status quo is clear, Graham said. “So what does it mean? What are we doing about it?” he asked. He was working on a narrative of his working group’s findings.

That narrative will feed the other working groups’ efforts. The Music & Liturgy Working Group has met twice. They began by asking why St. Paul’s needs reconciliation music and liturgy. The answer became, “We’re finding things at St. Paul’s that we need to mourn, and (in) the Episcopal Church music and liturgy is how we do that,” said Music & Liturgy Working Group chair Pam James, quoting fellow group member Michelle Walker.

In the fall, James’s group will introduce a new collect, with the idea of adding one for each church season. The largest task ahead of them is sifting through the history group’s narrative to find lyrics for a piece of music. St. Paul’s will commission music to allow St. Paul’s to mourn its past. “Yet we are also cognizant of the fact that we’re going to send it out into the world for other churches to [use] for their own mourning,” said James.

Things weren’t as immediately clear for the Memorial Working Group. “One of the first meetings was a free-for-all,” recounts Switz. “Everybody was talking past each other, but there were some strong emotions in the room.” The Memorial Working Group is charged with “seeking a physical or living/legacy expression of acknowledgment, commemoration, and reconciliation,” according to a History and Reconciliation Initiative flier. Initially, that mission got lost in the tumult, Switz said.

She considered how to proceed in keeping with the yearlong theme of “Be Reconciled,” landing on the church’s congregation-wide read, “The Book of Forgiving,” by retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu. “Let’s all tell our story,” Switz said at the next meeting. The half-dozen working group members did just that for two hours, she said, opening the path to more discussion. They’re currently working on “a very concise statement” on what “visceral, spiritual message” a 21st century St. Paul’s wants to convey through its history and reconciliation memorial.

Deep into research and reflection, parishioners seem patient with the process as it unfolds. “They’re taking their time, they have not rushed the process, and that’s been notable,” said Carl Stauffer, an associate professor at Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. Stouffer has visited St. Paul’s twice since December, guiding parishioners in reflection and workshop, and preaching. “There’s been a tremendous amount of effort in having the congregation buy into the process,” he added.

When St. Paul’s clergy and initiative leaders talk, consensus around one point quickly reveals itself. “I don’t think we’re finished. I think we’re still working on reconciling with each other,” Armstrong said. “If we sincerely want reconciliation, if we’re serious about it, it should be a different church [in 2020],” she said.

Beyond the process, beyond the memorial, the music and the liturgy, some at St. Paul’s wonder when reconciliation will conclude. “So how long will this process go, and how will we evaluate what the process achieved?” wondered St. Paul’s member Michelle Whitehurst-Cook. While she wants the History and Reconciliation Initiative’s efforts to remain ongoing, “I think there are lots of ways to continue [the work] and also to measure what we’ve achieved.” Whitehurst-Cook points to possibilities for measuring the initiative’s impact, from changes in outreach and church participation to gauging the number of sermons on social justice or talking with small groups.

And Memorial Working Group member Barbara Holley offered a caveat as St. Paul’s moves forward. “It’s more than a black-white issue,” she said. “I don’t want to just hear from somebody, ‘I’m sorry.’ That would just make me mad. I want to know that by your actions.” Racial reconciliation wasn’t on Holley’s mind when she joined St. Paul’s, but being a part of the History and Reconciliation Initiative has catalyzed an internal shift. “I do believe it’s changing me, in just bringing more awareness to the divisiveness of racism,” she said.

Holley’s sentiment represents another thread at St. Paul’s: Participants agree that as they target a communal paradigm shift, working with the initiative has already affected them personally. “For this to mean anything, it has to be personal,” said Adams-Riley.

“I’m a Southerner, and I still am, in all the good and the bad,” said Armstrong. “(Notwithstanding) the brutality of slavery, I love Southern culture.” Nonetheless, she’s had “almost a transfiguration” regarding race. She recognizes it more, continues to learn and is increasingly dedicated to reconciliation, group to group, within herself and with God.

However reconciliation unfolds at St. Paul’s, Stauffer credits the church with courage and vision. “What they’re doing is setting a national precedent for how faith communities can work through racial reconciliation,” Stauffer said.

That this racial reconciliation has sprouted in the unlikeliest of places, in the Cathedral of the Confederacy, is never lost on Adams-Riley. Nor is the reality that that his forebears included slave owners and Confederate soldiers. “People who knew me growing up never would have expected that I would have been a part of this (kind of reconciliation),” he said.

Yet he is. And he’s certain that it is important work with a connection beyond anyone’s intellectual grasp. “It becomes about how we live our lives today, about the spirit doing deep soul work that leaves us living differently,” he said. “I say lead on, spirit, lead on.”

— Heather Beasley Doyle is a freelance journalist based in Massachusetts.

WCC deputy chief speaks on ‘tragic reality’ of violence against children at Geneva event

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 12:16pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The World Council of Churches deputy General Secretary Isabel Apawo Phiri has told a Geneva-based event that churches and organizations working together can prevent and address “tragic reality” of violence against children.

As part of a World Vision campaign called “It takes a World to End Violence against Children” speakers included children who told their stories.

Full article.

Anglican Overseas Aid joins Australian government’s humanitarian response

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 12:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican Overseas Aid has been selected to be one of the aid agencies involved in the Australian Humanitarian Partnership, set up by the Australian government with the aim of responding rapidly to global crises. The partnership has a particular focus on Pacific preparedness and resilience work.

Full article.

Old Christ Church restoration project highlights local mission work in Vermont

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 12:01pm

[Diocese of Vermont] When asked to describe the Old Christ Church in Bethel, Vermont, two parishioners recently wrote, “just pulling in the driveway you get the sense that this is no ordinary building.” Built in 1823, the historic structure lacks electricity, heat and plumbing, which certainly contributes to its uniqueness. But there is something more, an indescribable energy that attracts people to the maple-lined drive off Route 12 for worship and respite.

Now the building that has been a source of spiritual restoration for so many is being prepped for a restoration of its own.

Planning is underway for a series of projects aimed at securing the foundation and repairing the steps, windows and clapboards. The members of neighboring Christ Episcopal Church, stewards of Old Christ Church, look forward to implementing the updates so that the historic building can continue to accommodate seasonal worship, weddings, funerals, special services, concerts, book discussions and community events.

The restoration, however, comes at a steep cost for the small congregation, which has embraced a model of ministry that relies on volunteer clergy, musicians and lay preachers and has no paid personnel. To date, Christ Episcopal Church has set aside $28,000 and won a $7,000 grant from the State of Vermont Division of Historic Preservation. Additionally, the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont has approved a $21,000 diocesan loan. While this only begins to cover the estimated expense of $56,000 to $109,000, church members remain hopeful that a combination of fundraising and competitive bids will enable them to bring their plans to fruition.

“At Christ Church Bethel, we continue to grow in faith and in our impact on the wider community,” said Nancy Wuttke, senior warden. And she gives numerous examples to back her claim.

“Our liturgical minister was recently ordained as transitional deacon. … Our Local Ministry Support Team has also received five new members, two of whom are called to pursue a path to ordination and service to our parish as priests, one of whom is called to pursue a path to ordination and service to our parish as deacon, one of whom is called to serve as preacher liaison and one of whom is called to serve as community liaison.”

With a view to ongoing formation, Christ Episcopal Church has recently launched an Education for Ministry study group. Such high levels of spiritual engagement serve to strengthen the ties between Christ Episcopal Church, the Old Christ Church building and the Bethel community.

For example, on the fourth Tuesday of each month, Christ Episcopal Church hosts the Bethel Bold Ideas Group—an interfaith discussion group started by the Rev. Shelie Richardson and other members of the Bethel community—that is well attended by parishioners and community members alike.

The church and community partners co-host the Community Meal, a popular local program that supports the Bethel Food Shelf, sources food from local farms, features great music and builds community.

“To date we have hosted six free and festive community events,” Wuttke said, “using the Wedding Feast at Cana to inspire our preparations: tablecloths, candles, live music, a sacramental feast … feeding about 150 people per event, whoever walks in the door, regardless of economic circumstance, and generating an average of $1,400 per event in free will donations, 100 percent of which goes to the Bethel Food Shelf.

“In addition, we provide free Winter Shares of vegetables for Food Shelf clients who meet with other community members to cook together, eat together and leave quarts of healthy, locally sourced food in the Food Shelf freezers. Many of our parishioners are active at the Food Shelf, as volunteers, and on the board.”

After a brief visit with the stewards of Old Christ Church it becomes clear: The energy that draws people here shows no signs of decreasing, which is why maintaining the building has become such a priority. As support for the restoration project grows, so does the Jesus Movement in Bethel, Vermont.

To learn more about the restoration of Old Christ Church, please send an email to nwuttke@gmail.com.

— Maurice Harris is communications minister for the Diocese of Vermont.

Disciplinary panel sanctions Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 11:46am

Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno spent nearly seven hours March 29 and 30 talking to the Hearing Panel considering the disciplinary action against him. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church ecclesiastical disciplinary panel considering a complaint against Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno has sanctioned the bishop for again trying to sell St. James the Great Episcopal Church.

The Hearing Panel told Bruno on June 17 that he is prohibited from “selling or conveying or contracting to sell or convey the St. James property until further order of the Hearing Panel.”

The original case against Bruno involves his unsuccessful 2015 attempt to sell the church in Newport Beach, California, to a condominium developer for $15 million in cash. That effort prompted the members of St. James to bring misconduct allegations against Bruno. The members alleged Bruno violated Church law. The Hearing Panel is still considering whether or how to discipline Bruno.

One of the complainants in the case contacted the Hearing Panel earlier this month with what is known as a “colorable” or plausible legal claim that Bruno may have entered into another contract to sell the St. James property, according to the panel’s notice. Bruno then refused to confirm or deny the alleged contract.

The Hearing Panel said that if Bruno has tried to sell the church property, or has sold it, before the panel decided the original case against him that conduct is “disruptive, dilatory and otherwise contrary to the integrity of this proceeding.” The same is true of his failure to give the panel the information it asked for about the accusations, the notice said. Such behavior violates the portion of canon law which governs the behavior of clerics who face disciplinary actions (Canon IV.13.9(a) page 151 here).

A hearing on the original accusations, including engaging in conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy took place March 28-30 in Pasadena, California. Attorneys representing the Episcopal Church and Bruno filed written closing briefs a month after the hearing ended. The Hearing Panel has not ruled on the initial complaint.

St. James was one of four properties that the diocese spent close to $10 million in litigation to recover from disaffiliated Episcopalians who broke with the Church over its policies on women’s ordination and the full inclusion of LGBTQI members in the life of the Church, including ordained ministry.

Diocese of Los Angeles Chancellor Richard Zevnik and Vice Chancellor Julie Dean Larsen have asked the panel to dismiss the entire case against Bruno. They have said that a “civil lawsuit, political actions and social media campaign” mounted by members of St. James the Great in Newport Beach were “wrongfully, but successfully and strategically, designed to stop the sale of [the] 40,000-square foot church property” on what is known as Lido Island, a prosperous housing development sporting a yacht club.

The Church’s clergy disciplinary canon, the chancellors argue, is “not intended to be used as a weapon to challenge a diocesan bishop’s decisions regarding the administration and stewardship of his or her diocese.”

Episcopal Church Attorney Raymond “Jerry” Coughlan has said that Bruno is guilty of “serious misconduct” in violating three sections of the Title IV canons: “failing to exercise his ministry in accordance with applicable church canons,” “conduct involving dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation” and “conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy. He said in his closing brief that the panel must conclude that Bruno’s conduct was “calculated, pervasive and long-running.”

Because of those violations and because “he shows no sign of recognizing even the possibility of his misconduct,” Coughlan recommended that panel suspend Bruno from ministry for at least a year.

However, because he said such a sentence would only exacerbate the conflict and not lead to reconciliation, Coughlan urged the panel to use its “broad authority” to craft a remedy that “looks forward creatively to heal the division now existing in the Los Angeles diocese.”

Bruno turns 72, the Church’s mandatory retirement age, in late 2018. Incoming Bishop Coadjutor John Taylor, his successor, is scheduled to be ordained and consecrated on July 8.

Because none of the previous steps of the Title IV disciplinary process resolved the issue, when the complaints against Bruno got to the point of seating a Hearing Panel, the Episcopal Church replaced St. James as the complainant in the case. Coughlan, representing the Episcopal Church, presented the case to the panel. According to the Title IV process, the Church pays for the costs of the disciplinary process for bishops.

Diocese of Southern Virginia Bishop Herman Hollerith IV is president of the Hearing Panel. The panel, appointed by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops from among its members, also includes Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely, North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith, the Rev. Erik Larsen of Rhode Island and Deborah Stokes of Southern Ohio.

Previous ENS coverage is here.

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

Nominations accepted for Diocese of Haiti bishop coadjutor

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 3:48pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Nominations are being accepted for candidates for the position of bishop coadjutor for the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti.

The Diocese of Haiti Profile is available in English here and in French here.

The open nomination process for the Bishop Coadjutor of Haiti continues through June 29.

Please note:

  • Candidates must be fluent in French and Creole, and able to understand English.
  • Nominations must be signed by six lay members and six clergy from the diocese.
  • Deadline for submitting nominations is June 29.
  • The election for the bishop coadjutor for the Diocese of Haiti is slated for January 27, 2018.

For information, contact the Very Rev. Ronald H. Clingenpeel, transitions consultant rhclingenpeel@yahoo.com.

Note: the French version of this release will be available shortly.

Trinity School for Ministry appoints David Ney as assistant professor of church history

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 12:10pm

[Trinity School for Ministry] Trinity School for Ministry is pleased to announce the appointment of the Rev. David Ney as its new assistant professor of church history. The Board of Trustees of Trinity School for Ministry ratified the call to the Rev. David Ney after a unanimous vote of the faculty in May. Ney’s area of research is the relationship between science and the Bible in the 18th century Church of England.

Ney received his doctorate in theology from Wycliffe College in Toronto, Canada. He is an ordained priest in the Anglican Church of Canada and currently serves the congregation of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Calgary, Alberta.

Ney will join the Trinity faculty on August 1, 2017, for the fall semester. He will be joined by his wife Jamie, a staff worker for Intervarsity, and their four children.

Trinity School for Ministry is an evangelical seminary in the Anglican tradition. Begun in 1976, the seminary has trained more than 1,100 graduates and many others who serve in ministries all over the world. As a global center for Christian formation, Trinity continues to produce outstanding leaders who can plant, renew, and grow churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.

Church of England parish at heart of relief efforts following London inferno

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 12:00pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] In the hours since a massive blaze ripped through a tower block in west London early on June 14, nearby St. Clement’s Church has been rapidly turned into an emergency relief center. It sheltered more than 100 residents as the blaze raged and has subsequently been overwhelmed with donations. People have given clothes, bedding and toiletries for the residents of the tower, many of whom fled the block in their nightwear and have lost everything. Volunteers from churches throughout the area are running the relief operation.

Full article.

Video: Presiding Bishop’s message for World Refugee Day

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 11:55am


[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] “In the name of Mary, Joseph and the Lord Jesus, aid all refugees today, for most of the refugees like the Holy Family themselves, are families, and most are children,” commented Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry in his 2017 World Refugee Day Message. “I invite you to observe June 20 as World Refugee Day to learn more about the crisis and to find ways that you can both pray and help in other ways.”

In 2000, the United Nations named June 20 as World Refugee Day, deeming it an annual opportunity to celebrate the resilience and success of the former refugees who bless our communities with their wisdom and irrepressible spirit and to examine the root causes of violence and persecution that force people to flee at an alarming rate.

Episcopal Migration Ministries is a ministry of the Episcopal Church, and is one of nine national agencies that work in partnership with the government to resettle refugees in the United States. Episcopal Migration Ministries currently has 31 affiliate offices in 23 states.

The Presiding Bishop’s video message is here.

Episcopal Migration Ministries toolkit
Episcopal Migration Ministries has prepared a comprehensive toolkit, located here, with ideas and guides for individuals and congregations to observe World Refugee Day on June 20.

In 2017, World Refugee Day falls within the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and one of the toolkit items provides ways to host an Interfaith Panel Discussion & Prayer for refugees followed by an Iftar meal (literally translated to breakfast).

“Faith is one of the primary drivers for many involved in the important work of refugee resettlement,” commented the Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson, Director of Episcopal Migration Ministries. “We hope, by gathering members of and in communities across this land to eat together and share aspects of their own particular faith traditions regarding welcoming, that we can deepen our relationships and inspire even greater ministry on the local level.”

• Find a local World Refugee Day event on this RCUSA list of Nationwide Events
• Host a #StandTogether Interfaith Conversation, Prayer and Dinner in honor of World Refugee Day, resources available here
• Start a conversation in your congregation and community about how you can be involved in this life-saving work. World Refugee Day bulletin insert here.
• Join the Episcopal Public Policy Network to learn more about how you can work with local and elected leaders to support refugees.


Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry
2017 World Refugee Day Message

In the late 1930s, as the world was on the verge of being plunged into an apocalyptic Second World War, Episcopalians and the Episcopal Church gathered together and began work to resettle those who were refugees fleeing terror in Europe, helping to resettle families, helping to resettle young people, helping to resettle people in this country in safety and security.

Since the 1930s, Episcopalians have been involved in the work of resettling families and people who are refugees, some 80,000.

At that time, in the 1930s there was a poster that depicted Mary, the baby Jesus, and Joseph. Mary was on the donkey. They were clearly on a journey. They were fleeing Palestine. They were seeking to find safety in Egypt. They were refugees. The poster from the 1930s read, “In the name of these refugees, aid all refugees.”

In the name of Mary, Joseph and the Lord Jesus, aid all refugees today, for most of the refugees like the Holy Family themselves, are families, and most are children.

I invite you to observe June 20 as World Refugee Day to learn more about the crisis and to find ways that you can both pray and help in other ways.

God bless you, God keep you, and you keep the faith.

Alabama judge orders mediation in Sauls’ lawsuit

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 10:42am

[Episcopal News Service] An Alabama judge has ordered the corporation of the Episcopal Church, called the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS), and former Chief Operating Officer Bishop Stacy Sauls to engage in state-mandated mediation.

Mobile County 13th Judicial District Judge Ben Brooks’ June 12 order came after he had heard oral arguments on the Church’s request that he dismiss a lawsuit Sauls filed after he was let go from his post. Brooks told the parties to submit proposed orders on the dismissal motion by July 14.

The suit against the DFMS and an unspecified number of unnamed defendants associated with the Church claims that Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s decision to replace him as chief operating officer had damaged his reputation and has made it difficult, if not impossible, for him to be employed elsewhere in the Church. The Church had argued that the case did not belong in the Alabama courts but, instead, in New York where Sauls was based as COO.

Brooks also said in his order that the parties in the lawsuit must submit to the sort of mediation that Alabama requires in civil lawsuits. Brooks appointed Michael Upchurch, an Alabama lawyer and mediator, to lead that process. Upchurch must finish the mediation and report to Brooks by Aug. 18.

Upchurch attends St. James Episcopal Church in Fairhope, Alabama, according to his profile on the website of the Mobile law firm Frazer, Greene, Upchurch, and Baker.

Sauls filed suit in early February, nearly a year after Curry relieved him of his job. In announcing the lawsuit, the presiding bishop said that, in consultation with legal counsel, he had “tried his best to negotiate a severance with Bishop Sauls.” Curry said he made “a good faith and compassionate offer, but that offer was not accepted. The presiding bishop also said that “as a steward of church resources” he could not go beyond that offer and explain it in good conscience to the Church.

The presiding bishop had announced April 4, 2016, that Sam McDonald, deputy chief operating officer and director of mission, and Alex Baumgarten, director of public engagement and mission communications, were terminated after an investigation found they “violated established workplace policies and have failed to live up to the church’s standards of personal conduct in their relationships with employees, which contributed to a workplace environment often inconsistent with the values and expectations of the Episcopal Church.”

At that time, Curry said Sauls would not continue as chief operating officer even though he had “operated within the scope of his office,” did not violate workplace policy and was unaware of the policy violations by McDonald and Baumgarten (both of whom reported to him). The three senior managers had been on administrative leave since Dec. 9, 2015, pending an investigation into formal complaints and allegations from multiple members of the presiding bishop’s staff that the three had violated personnel policies.

Episcopal Women’s History Project conference focuses on women of color

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 3:23pm

Sandra T. Montes, right, a consultant with the Episcopal Church Foundation, takes a selfie with the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation, center, and Denise Treviño-Gomez, missioner for intercultural development in the Diocese of Texas, during the Episcopal Women’s History Project conference underway at the Maritime Center in Maryland. Photo: Sandra T. Montes via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] The Rt. Rev. Jennifer L. Baskerville-Burrows was deep into her sermon, rhythmically invoking the names of a great cloud of witnesses whose presence was deeply felt by those who gathered in near Baltimore this week for the Episcopal Women’s History Project conference.

“You know them, women like Pauli Murray; say her name!  Verna Dozier; say her name!  Margaret Bush, first black woman to serve in the House of Deputies; say her name,” said Baskerville-Burrows, the newly-elected bishop of Indianapolis and the first black female bishop diocesan elected in the Episcopal Church. “Shout them out! Who else? Say her name! The Rev. Carmen Guererro; say her name! Shout out these names to our children, so they know who they are.”

The June 12-15 conference, the first in the group’s history to focus on women of color, brought together lay and ordained women from across the country. Araceli Ma, who works with the Latino ministries in the Diocese of Washington, said she came to ensure a Latino presence at the conference and to show her two daughters, ages 13 and 10, the opportunities open to them.

During their time together, the women shared stories of their own hopes and challenges, often finding an overwhelming sense of connection in their particular experiences.

“My story is our story,” Baskerville-Burrows said during her June 12 homily.

The Rev. Matilda Dunn, president of the History Project, said planning for this year’s conference began about two years ago. The project had been collecting oral histories and stories from women throughout the Episcopal Church, from the famous to the faithful parishioners and altar guild members who often form the backbone of a parish.

“We need to honor them because they’re also doing the work of the church,” she said. “It’s important to me because the history has to be kept for all of us, men and women.”

Yet, Dunn and others felt a need to set aside some time for women of color to honor and celebrate their collective history. Working with the Rev. Nan Peete, they secured Baskerville-Burrows as homilist and the Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, newly-appointed dean of the Episcopal Divinity School, as the keynote speaker. The conference opened Monday, the 87th birthday of the Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris, the first woman ordained a bishop in the Anglican Communion.

On the morning of June 13, Douglas urged those attending the conference to speak the truth about their experiences and how their lives have shaped their view of the world.

“We have to tell the truth about who we are. This country does not like to tell the truth about itself,” she said. “Now, if the Episcopal Church tells the truth about itself, what it is. It will be telling the truth about this nation.”

During her address, she cited recent census statistics to offer a glimpse of the struggles and challenges faced by many women and in particular women of color. About 25 percent of all black and Hispanic women live poverty, with the figure reaching 28 percent for Native American women. Consequently, children also suffer. Poverty rates range from 13 percent of Asian children to 36 percent of African-American children, said Douglas.

Criminal justice figures are equally grim with incarceration rates for black and Hispanic women far exceeding population rates.

“Given these facts, what does all of this mean to us who are gathered here?” said Douglas. “We are called to show forth what it means to be church. We are called to remember [Jesus] by acting and doing as he would in the world.”

For Douglas, Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman as told in Gospel of John, was a perfect example of how one crosses social barriers, lays aside social privilege and finds true and authentic communion. She reminded them that even though their lives have brought them inside the world of the Episcopal Church, they often remain outsiders with a unique perspective. She also urged them to find common ground with the women who were not in the conference center, where dessert trays and coffee urns filled the tables outside the air-conditioned meeting room.

“The Samaritan women of our day are the women who look like us,” she said. “It is to these women that we must be accountable.”

During a question-and-answer session following the keynote address, Grecia Adriana Rivas, who lives near San Diego, California, spoke of the fear and anxiety rampant in the immigrant and undocumented communities in recent months. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are seen patrolling the county fair, or keeping an eye on churches, she said.

“I was so mad,” she said. “We can’t even have fun anymore. We can’t even practice our faith anymore.”

Douglas responded with a repeated call for solidarity.

“We need to show up when it’s our cause and when it’s not our cause because it is our cause,” she said. “We need to be there for each other.”

Throughout the conference, the women spent time questioning the meaning of diversity, the practical aspects of being a welcoming church, and the cultural histories each brings to the church. During worship, when they were invited to pray the Lord’s Prayer in the language of their hearts, the familiar words might be heard in English, Spanish or Navajo.

The Rev. Cornelia Eaton, a deacon who serves in the Diocese of Navajoland, mentioned the painful story of Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where in the 1860s the U. S. government forcibly moved thousands of Navajo off their land to live in miserable conditions on the Bosque Redondo. The relocation effort failed and after a few years, the Navajo were returned to their homes. But, the story lives on and the fort and its environs are remembered as “the place of suffering,” said Eaton.

“We are all weavers of many cultures and traditions,” she said. “I became a weaver of the Christian tradition and the Navajo tradition.”

Some of the stories shared involved quirky encounters that resonated with those in attendance and brought laughter to the room. Sandra Montes, who is Afro-Peruvian and is from the Diocese of Texas, recounted a time when she and her mother were shopping for greeting cards in Boston, Massachusetts. Montes said that as they were laughing and reading the cards, two older white women walked up to them and said: “’The Mexican cards are over there.’” Montes said she and her mother looked at the women and replied: ‘”But we’re Peruvian.’”

The Rev. Yein Esther Kim, ordained in 2014 from the Episcopal Divinity School and now serving in the Diocese of Los Angeles, shared that “showing up” can take on a particular nuance for a woman of color.

“When they feel [an event] is not diverse enough, or multicultural enough, they’ll invite me, as if I could bring them just a little diversity,” said Kim, who is Korean-American. “So, I go, because nothing will happen if I don’t show up.”

Indeed, the value of showing up, of being seen and bringing their voice to the cultural conversation, whether in marches, on social media, or in the life of the Episcopal Church was not lost on the women.

”God is faithful—so let us be as well,” Baskerville-Burrows said during her opening homily. “Women of color will not be erased. We will not be made to be invisible.  Let us learn to see as Jesus sees.  For God says to us all, not the least to women of color in the church, “I see YOU”.

— The Rev. M. Dion Thompson is a priest in the Diocese of Maryland.

Archbishop of Canterbury recognizes outstanding service to the church

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 2:21pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] More than 35 people from around the world have been recognized with awards for outstanding service to the church in a ceremony at Lambeth Palace. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby presented the awards saying he wanted the lives and actions of those receiving these awards, which exemplified the Church’s beliefs and values, to be visible to the Church and the wider world: “Many of us will know that great prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola: “Teach us, good Lord,  to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will,” he said.

Recipients included religious, political and community leaders, musicians and others, from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Full article.

Podcast: EYE17 prepares to take its ‘Path to Peace’ message to Oklahoma

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 11:45am

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Youth Event is gearing up for its 2017 conference July 10-14 in Edmond, Oklahoma. In advance of the big event — expected to draw 1,300 teenagers from across the Episcopal Church — Episcopal News Service sent Miranda Shafer to meet with the EYE17 planning committee and produce an audio story about how this year’s theme, “Path to Peace,” came to be.

Have a listen.

Tray Light joins St. John’s, Roanoke, Virginia

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 10:36am

Tray Light has joined the staff of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Roanoke, Virginia, as minister to youth. A graduate of Virginia Episcopal School, Light finished a Bachelor of Arts in history at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. Prior to his work at St. John’s, he worked for Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now) in Virginia, managing and training employees and volunteers, running one of the organization’s warehouses and assisting with Rise Against Hunger events.

Light is no stranger to youth ministry in the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia. He grew up Episcopalian in Lynchburg and attended Youth at Council from 2002 through 2006. In 2006 he attended the 75th General Convention as the Province III member of the General Convention Official Youth Presence. He attended 76th General Convention as an alternate for the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia. He is currently a postulant for holy orders and studied for a year at the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee.

Pauli Murray Center aims to inspire ‘young, future firebrands’

Tue, 06/13/2017 - 12:43pm

[Episcopal News Service] A recent National Park Service historic landmark designation and $237,575 grant has ignited hopes for completion of a project to convert the wood-frame childhood home of Pauli Murray into a social justice center dedicated to the legacy of the early civil rights activist, fiery feminist and the first African-American woman ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church.

Pauli Murray’s childhood home in Durham, North Carolina, will open to the public in 2020 as a center for dialogue, the arts, education and community activism for all people. Photo: Courtesy of the Schlessinger Library at Harvard University

“She was a fiery feminist, an early civil rights advocate, arrested for riding in the white section on buses back in the 1940s, long before the Freedom Riders of the 1960s,” recalled the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, 79, assisting bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina, during a recent telephone interview.

After Murray’s 1977 ordination, he invited her to preach and celebrate the Eucharist at the Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill, where he was rector.

“It was where her grandmother was baptized when she was a slave child, in that same parish,” Lee said. “It was amazing, that she carried the Bible her grandmother Cornelia had given her. It rested on a lectern engraved in the memory of the slaveholder who brought her grandmother to baptism.

“You could feel barriers of gender, sex, social class, racism dropping in that moment. It was an electric event.”

Pressed into the pages of that Bible were dried flowers sent by Eleanor Roosevelt when Murray graduated from Howard University. Their friendship is chronicled in a 2016 book, “The Firebrand and the First Lady.” Murray had appealed for assistance to President Franklin D. Roosevelt after the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill rejected her application to its law school because of her race and Harvard University rejected her because she was a woman. Eleanor Roosevelt responded with a personal letter.

While Murray is not exactly a “hidden figure” in the church—she was elevated to sainthood in 2012—or in the nation, Lee and others say that the center hopes to share much of her legacy that is either unknown or forgotten.

Pauli Murray’s and Eleanor Roosevelt’s decadeslong friendship began when Murray asked Franklin D. Roosevelt for help after she was denied admission to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard University. Eleanor Roosevelt replied personally with a letter. Photo: Courtesy of the Schlessinger Library at Harvard University

Like, staging lunch counter sit-ins in Washington, D.C., in the 1940s; and, helping to develop the legal strategy used to strike down “separate but equal” laws, paving the way for the landmark U.S. Supreme Court-ordered desegregation of the nation’s schools in Brown v. Board of Education.

In awarding the National Historic Landmark designation, the Park Service said Murray was a bridge figure between social movements. Her efforts were critical to retaining “sex” in Title VII, a legal protection for women against employment discrimination. After decades of work for black civil rights, her vision for a civil rights association for women became the National Organization for Women, or NOW.

A poet, author, educator, lawyer, activist and priest, Murray worked for the NAACP, and also identified with the LGBTQ community, courageously embodying decades ago many human rights issues that remain challenges today and symbolizing hope to those on the margins, the Pauli Murrays today, said Barbara Lau, director of the Pauli Murray Project at the Duke University Human Rights Center.

“Pauli is a woman of our day,” Lau said. “When she was alive, people weren’t ready for her. Her story teaches us to think about our own experience and value it. Her theories about life really grew from her own experience and, instead of trying to be like everyone else, she taught us it is important to accept who we are and try to build a world in which someone like Pauli Murray could truly live out her potential. That continues to be our work.”

‘Proud Shoes’: Nurturing a new generation of young firebrands

When Murray was targeted during the McCarthy era by the House Un-American Activities Committee, she responded with a 1956 book chronicling her family’s roots in slavery: “Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family.”

Pauli Murray was the first African-American woman to be ordained in the Episcopal Church. In 2012, she was included in the church’s commemorative “Holy Women, Holy Men.” The first Eucharist she celebrated was at the Chapel of the Cross, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where her grandmother, a slave, had been baptized. Photo: Courtesy of the Schlessinger Library at Harvard University

Born in 1910, at about 4 years old, Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray, was sent to live with relatives in Durham, North Carolina, after her mother died. Murray’s grandfather, Robert Fitzgerald, a Civil War veteran who fought for the Union Army, oversaw construction of the simple, wood-frame home where she grew up and which is a planned centerpiece for the Pauli Murray Project.

Murray graduated from Hunter College in New York City, and earned a degree at the Howard University School of Law, after being denied admission to both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard University. She later earned advanced degrees in law from the University of California, Berkeley, and Yale University. She was affiliated with many social justice organizations and served on President John F. Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women.

In 1951, she authored “States’ Laws on Race and Color,” which Thurgood Marshall called “the Bible of Civil Rights law.”

All of which makes the anticipated 2020 opening of the Pauli Murray Center “really important, to make her life and ideas visible on the physical landscape … to bring visibility not only to her story but also to “’young firebrands, future firebrands’ like her,” Lau said.

Mayme Webb-Bledsoe, the center’s board chair and a local community resident, said she grew up hearing Murray’s story in Durham’s west end, a small, segregated African-American community that “fed on itself, with neighborhood stores. We walked to things; we supported one another.”

She felt it important that Murray’s story be told in the spirit of that community, she said, “and that it’s important for the world to know, the nation to know, others to know” Murray’s legacy of inclusivity, dedication to true community and truth-telling.

The center’s goal is to create “a visitor-ready historic site in 2020, focused on history, arts, education and activism, where learning and thoughtful discussion that advances Pauli’s vision for an inclusive America takes place,” she said.

Inspired by a Duke University community revitalization effort, the Southwest Central Durham Quality of Life Project, the center in April 2017 hosted a homecoming celebration attended by 1,500 people, offered workshops, a walking tour, and photo exhibit, documented oral histories and helped to create a series of murals depicting Murray’s likeness.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry heralded the effort.

“Pauli Murray was, to paraphrase the late martyr Oscar Romero, ‘a prophet of a future not her own.’ Long before these things could be realized, and often with great pain and personal sacrifice, she courageously followed what St. Paul called the ‘upward Call of God in Christ Jesus,’” said Curry, in a statement to ENS.

“As such, she crossed chasms and challenged humanly-created barriers preventing anyone from realizing the fullness of God’s dream for their life, because of their race, their gender, sexual orientation or identity. In that sense, she truly was a bridge person who charted a way beyond socially constructed nightmares connecting us to the very dream of God for us and all creation.”

Webb-Bledsoe said that individuals, corporations and foundations have contributed to the effort. The funds support the renovation of Murray’s circa 1898 childhood home, and an adjacent property to be used as a welcome center.

“It is important to know that we can now share this space and save it, not just as a moment in time, but to begin to really think of ways we can use her message, her challenges, her strength, to grow and explore new ways of being a part of a community, learning to be good neighbors, helping to be part of helping our new generation to understand where they came from and how they’ve benefitted from it,” Webb-Bledsoe said.

Above all, the center hopes to “allow people to be able to dream and to live that dream because we encourage it, we feed it,” she said. “My hope is that it is going to be useful, to provide tools, allow people an opportunity to engage in something wonderful, a change of life, a change of thinking, to at least be moved, to be provoked to something.”

Honoring Murray’s ‘true community’

The Rev. Brooks Graebner, rector of St. Matthew’s, Hillsborough, North Carolina, said the complexity of Murray’s story has guided his ministry as diocesan historian as the diocese grapples with its racial history.

One of four community murals in Durham, North Carolina, depicting Pauli Murray at various stages in her life. Photo: Courtesy of the Schlessinger Library at Harvard University

Murray’s autobiography, “Song in a Weary Throat” was published posthumously two years after her 1985 death from cancer.

“She was willing to draw strength from all her roots and to chronicle what she called both the dignity and the degradation of her own family past” as a descendant of both slaves and slaveholders, as well as struggling with issues of gender identity, he said.

“Everything she did and what she stands for is to hold out the goal of living in that notion of true community, a community where we meet on grounds of equality, mutuality and reciprocity. Where we are allowed to be ourselves in our own diversities and complexities but at the same time acknowledge others as fellow members of society and the church,” Graebner said.

“She saw herself pulling the disparate strands of American life, culture, disparate strands of her own life and weaving them together.”

A recent profile in the New Yorker magazine sheds more insight into Murray’s life.

The Episcopal Church’s ‘best kept secret’

In July 2016, Lau took Murray’s story to Houston, Texas, for a weekend fundraiser, at the invitation of the Houston area chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians and Integrity Houston, according to Ayesha Mutope-Johnson, UBE chapter president.

The weekend included: panel discussions about race, gender and sexuality issues in the church; a forum about the intersectionality between issues of race and gender; and, an original play, written and produced by John Cornwell. The event raised $1,500 for the center, Mutope-Johnson said.

She was inspired to organize it after realizing that, although Murray had been included in the Episcopal Church’s “Holy Women, Holy Men” commemorations in 2012, “I had never really heard much about her.”

Afterward, she realized “Murray’s life was this amazing story. She was the best kept secret in the Episcopal Church.”

A playwright and artistic director, Cornwell quickly creating a play about Murray’s life for the weekend, and both he and the cast feeling transformed by it and by her life.

“That’s the power of Pauli Murray; she inspires and speaks to people in ways that you suddenly just do things,” he said. “It’s a grace that inspires you and makes it all happen.”

He noted the poignancy of Murray’s struggles, frequent arrests and life on the margins. “Not only was she a woman working hard on women’s rights, but an African-American working hard on the rights of ethnic minorities, and she was also struggling with her own sexual identity. At times, she considered that she must have a mental illness because that’s how society portrayed it.”

While researching her life as background for the play, Cornwell recognized Murray’s struggle led her to the priesthood: that over time she understood true reconciliation couldn’t be achieved by the law solely, but also by touching spirits and hearts. She earned a master of divinity at The General Theological Seminary in New York City and served as an Episcopal priest until she was 72, the mandatory retirement age.

Still, he said, she continued to serve, he said. “She just kept on and kept on … for any of us, one of her challenges might have been enough to shut us down and make us not try, but she just kept going.”

But he added, “What is scary is that there are so many parallels that we are still living through that were occurring in her life 75 to 80 years ago.”

Lau agreed. “I don’t associate her just with civil rights, or just with women’s rights, or just with the faith community, or just with Durham. She operated in the spaces between that weren’t easy to categorize. She helps us navigate the whole 20th century of human rights movements, which makes her amazing.”

The center aims to continue Murray’s legacy, Lau said. “The question is not just talking about how she’s fantastic, but to think about what she calls us to do. She said human rights are indivisible, that if we just work for the rights of one group, we’re not doing our job.

“The other message from her (is) … we’re related by common history, culture, suffering, blood. When are we going to admit we’re related and get on with the business of healing those wounds? We’re not going to heal them until we face the truth.”

She added, “That’s the hard truth of our past, the hard truth of white supremacy, the hard truth of greed and the way the capitalist system has pushed some people to the bottom while raising other people to the top. That’s the hard truth of patriarchy. Like Pauli, we have to face the degradation and the dignity of all the ancestors. That’s the hard truth she asks us to face.”

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

Anglican Church of Melanesia supports islands hit by tropical cyclone

Tue, 06/13/2017 - 9:31am

[Anglican Alliance] The Anglican Church of Melanesia is working closely with the National Disaster Management Committee in Vanuatu, with support from Anglican agencies in the Pacific, after a tropical cyclone battered the Torres Islands at the beginning of May.

Full article.

European churches call for day of prayer commemorating refugees who’ve died in transit

Tue, 06/13/2017 - 9:27am

[Conference of European Churches] Since 2000, more than 30,000 migrants and refugees have lost their lives on their way to Europe, often drowning at sea or suffocating in containers on trucks and ships. Churches throughout Europe have responded through intensive solidarity and humanitarian efforts at Europe’s borders and by advocating for safe and legal passage.

Full article.

Wellington elects its first female bishop

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 2:15pm

[Anglican Taonga] An estimated 900 worshippers packed into the Wellington Cathedral of St. Paul to celebrate the evening ordination of the Rt. Rev. Eleanor “Ellie” Sanderson as assistant bishop in the Diocese of Wellington, New Zealand. Sanderson has ministered in the Wellington diocese for 16 years, 11 of those as a priest.

Full article.

Urdu-language Anglican worship in UAE

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

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church of St Luke in  Ras al Khaimah – one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates –  has a new Urdu-language, Anglican congregation.

Full article.