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Iglesia Anglicana de Chile confirmed as 40th Province of the Anglican Communion

Tue, 10/02/2018 - 5:05pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Iglesia Anglicana de Chile, currently a diocese of the Anglican Church of South America, will become the 40th province of the Anglican Communion. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will travel to Santiago next month to formally inaugurate the new province, after both the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and a majority of Anglican Communion Primates confirmed that the diocese should be given provincial status.

Read the full article here.

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Episcopal congregation creates film team, shares story of cancer and faith in ‘This Day Forward’

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 4:44pm

[Episcopal News Service] It may be coming soon to a theater or church near you. “This Day Forward,” which tells the story of an Iowa family’s struggles with cancer and faith, is the first feature-length movie produced by a filmmaking team formed by All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills, California.

The movie was filmed in Waverly, Iowa, home of the real-life characters, Mike and Jen Jensen and their three daughters. Mike Jensen, a music professor at Wartburg College, began suffering from seizures in 2012, leading doctors to diagnose his brain cancer and sparking the family’s quest to find a successful treatment.

“This Day Forward” was produced by a filmmaking crew from All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills, California.

The filmmakers launched a two-month, cross-country tour of screenings on Sept. 15, starting in Waverly. “The response has been exactly what we prayed for when we made the film in the first place,” director Brian Ide said. During Q&A sessions after the screenings, with Jen Jensen participating, many audience members felt comfortable enough to share raw stories of their own fears and faith challenges.

The project started about three years ago when parish leaders at All Saints’ were discussing what new ministries the congregation could take on based on the skill sets its parishioners had to offer. Several were involved in the film industry, including Ide, who serves on the vestry, so they formed a group to work on a faith-based short film. With that experience under the team’s belt, it turned its focus to a feature film.

“We knew that we wanted it to be about faith journeys that were complicated and challenging,” Ide said, adding that those aren’t always the kinds of stories told in faith-based films.

Ide had attended Wartburg College with the Jensens and was aware of Mike Jensen’s cancer struggles. After his diagnosis, Jensen continued to serve as a worship leader in the family’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of America congregation, but his ability to work was severely curtailed after he suffered a stroke in 2016 related to his treatment.

Mike Jensen, focus of “This Day Forward,” plays guitar and sings with backing by Randy Coleman, the actor who plays him in the movie. Photo courtesy of Brian Ide

Jensen now needs 24-hour care but remains in good spirits, his wife said. The family embraced the chance to tell his story with the help of Ide’s team.

“He’s still so powerful with his worship and everything about him,” Jen Jensen said. “He has trouble talking. He hates that he’s not on tour with us.”

She and Ide were in Columbus, Nebraska, on Oct. 1 for the latest in the series of screenings of “This Day Forward.” Next stops include theaters and churches in Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri and Wisconsin over the next two weeks. The schedule also includes screenings on Oct. 24 at St. James Episcopal Church in New York and Oct. 26 at Virginia Theological Seminary in suburban Washington, D.C.

Despite the project’s roots in an Episcopal congregation’s ministry, its growth has been marked by its ecumenical approach, from the variety of churches hosting screenings to the film’s depiction of faith in a way that transcends an Episcopal or even a Christian perspective.

“This Day Forward” is not about idealized faith, Los Angeles Bishop John Taylor said in an online video expressing his support for the movie. “This film expresses a solid mature faith that people can use as they seek to understand and grapple with suffering.”

Cast members pose for a photo at a screening of “This Day Forward.” Photo courtesy of Brian Ide

The movie was backed financially by donations, which means Ide and his team do not need to repay investors and can use all proceeds to support the project’s charitable goals. One of those goals is to enable All Saints’ to develop and promote more movies like “This Day Forward,” and a portion of proceeds will help the Jensens cover the cost of Mike’s treatment.

“Mike’s mission in ministry is far from being done,” Jen Jensen said. “His body has seriously failed him, but he’s still doing God’s work.”

The film’s screening tour aims to hit 60 cities in 60 days, and the filmmakers are still finalizing the schedule for the first two weeks of November in the South and West. To host a screening, either during the current tour or at a later date, click here.

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

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Archbishop of York John Sentamu to retire in 2020

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 4:21pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of York John Sentamu will retire on June 7, 2020, three days ahead of his 71st birthday, it was announced Oct. 1. Church of England clergy are required to retire at 70, but the queen, as supreme governor of the Church of England, has the power in her discretion to extend that for up to one year.

Read the full article here.

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Primate calls for prayer for victims of Indonesia earthquake, tsunami

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 4:17pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop Moon Hing of West Malaysia, the primate of the Anglican Church of South East Asia, has appealed for prayer for victims of an earthquake and tsunami in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The death toll on Oct. 1 rose to 1,203, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, with officials warning that this is expected to rise sharply.

Read the full article here.

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Becas disponibles para los Ministerios de Adultos Jóvenes y Universitarios

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 5:54am

Se invita a los ministerios episcopales (o ministerios ecuménicos con participación episcopal) con aspiraciones de lanzar un ministerio o programa para adultos jóvenes a que soliciten una beca episcopal para un ministerio de adultos jóvenes o un ministerio universitario. Son elegibles para esta solicitud las diócesis, las congregaciones, o los ministerios en centros de estudios superiores o universidades que estén actualmente comprometidos o estén fomentando nuevas vinculaciones con adultos jóvenes dentro y fuera del ambiente universitario. La información y el formulario de solicitud para las becas está disponible en internet.

En 2018 se otorgaron becas a una amplia gama de proyectos. La diócesis episcopal correspondiente a la Zona de misión de Navajolandia recibió una beca para cubrir la compra de equipo técnico para su innovador programa de capacitación de jóvenes adultos en desarrollo de páginas web y tecnología de redes. En la diócesis episcopal de Rochester, los ministerios universitarios en la Universidad de Rochester, el Instituto Tecnológico de Rochester y el Instituto Técnico Nacional para Sordos están creando ministerios universitarios accesibles que ofrecen servicios de culto, desarrollo espiritual, formación, estudios bíblicos y fraternización para responder a las necesidades de las personas que son sordas o que tienen limitaciones auditivas en estos centros de educación.

Otras becas para el año 2018 para los Ministerios de Adultos Jóvenes y Universitarios financiaron iniciativas que ofrecen fomento del liderazgo, capacitación y programas para adultos jóvenes en las áreas de reconciliación racial, discernimiento, justicia medioambiental, apostolado entre los mismos jóvenes y justicia social.

“Estas becas ayudan a la Iglesia Episcopal a una comprensión más amplia de lo que significa el ministerio de los adultos jóvenes dentro y fuera del ambiente universitario” dijo la Rda. Shannon Kelly, oficial encargada de los Ministerios de Adultos Jóvenes y Universitarios. “Este es un ministerio en crecimiento que enseña a la Iglesia cómo ejercer la misión y el Movimiento de Jesús de maneras nuevas e innovadoras”.

Los cuatro tipos de becas son:

1) Beca de liderazgo: para establecer un nuevo ministerio de campus, restaurar uno inactivo o para revitalizar uno que ya existe. La beca oscilará entre los 20.000 a 30.000 dólares, que pueden ser utilizados dentro de un periodo de dos años.

2) Becas para Ministerio de Universitarios: proveen un capital inicial para ayudar en la puesta en marcha de ministerios universitarios nuevos e innovadores o para mejorar un ministerio existente. Las becas oscilarán entre los 3.000 a 5.000 dólares.

3) Becas para Ministerio de Adultos Jóvenes: proveen capital inicial para asistir en el inicio de nuevos e innovadores ministerios de adultos jóvenes o para mejorar un ministerio existente. Las becas oscilarán entre los 3.000 a 5.000 dólares.

4) Becas para proyectos: proveen fondos para un proyecto único que aumentará el impacto del ministerio de adultos jóvenes y el ministerio universitario. Las becas van de los 100 a los 1.000 dólares.

Un total de 133.000 dólares está disponible para este ciclo, de un total de 400.000 dólares disponibles para este trienio. Estas becas son para el año académico 2019-2020.

“El ministerio de adultos jóvenes dentro y fuera de los recintos universitarios es una manera como la Iglesia desarrolla los líderes de hoy y mañana”, añadió Kelly; “es un honor y un privilegio avanzar junto con estos ministerios en su búsqueda de maneras únicas de establecer nexos en sus comunidades”.

Los ministerios episcopales (o ministerios ecuménicos con participación episcopal) que en la actualidad estén comprometidos o estén fomentando una nueva vinculación con adultos jóvenes dentro y fuera del ambiente universitario están invitados a presentar su solicitud. La información sobre el proceso de solicitud, las directrices y el formulario de solicitud están disponibles aquí. A partir del jueves 1 de noviembre puede presentar su solicitud debidamente diligenciada. La fecha límite para este trámite es el lunes 19 de noviembre de 2018 a las 10 de la noche, hora del este [de Estados Unidos].

Si tiene más preguntas, por favor comuníquese con la Rda. Shannon Kelly, oficial  encargada de los Ministerios de Adultos Jóvenes y Universitarios en skelly@episcopalchurch.org o con Valerie Harris, colaboradora de Formación en vharris@episcopalchurch.org.

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Asiamerica Ministries national consultation underway in Honolulu

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 9:00pm

The Rev. Winfred Vergara, the Episcopal Church’s Asiamerica missioner; the Rt. Rev. Allen K. Shin, bishop suffragan in the Diocese of New York; the Rev. Randolph Albano, vicar of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Honolulu; and Rosa Galanto, a member of St. Paul’s, pose for a selfie before the Sept. 27 opening Eucharist of the Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries National Consultation. The consultation in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, continues through Oct. 1. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Honolulu, Hawai’i] The Asian diaspora isn’t easily defined; “Asia” can mean anything from Chinese to South Korean to Filipino to Indian. Each ethnicity has its own rich cultural identity, with many having diverse dialects and cultures within that identity.

As evidenced by opening Eucharist of the Sept. 27-Oct. 1 Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries National Consultation, many of those cultures and identities are present in the Episcopal and Anglican Churches.

“There are almost three hundred people coming here from various Asian constituencies, not only in the United States, but we have representatives from Vancouver [British Columbia] who are inspired by the work of Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries,” said the Rev. Winfred Vergara, the Episcopal Church’s Asiamerica missioner and the consultation’s co-dean.  “We have formed an ACAM, Anglican Canadian Asian Ministries, and there’s a representative from the Church of England and they want also to have a similar organization like we do in England. So, I’m really hopeful and excited about this.

The Rev. Winfred Vergara, the Episcopal Church’s Asiamerica missioner and Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries National Consultation co-dean, addresses the packed crowd gathered at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“Our theme is ‘Piko,’ the Hawaiian word for ‘navel’ or ‘bellybutton,’ which represents our interconnectivity with one another — Christ, Creation and Community,” said Vergara. In a literal sense, he said, piko describes the belief that “creation started from the center of the earth and worked its way in all directions.”

Registration topped 267 participants representing Asians from the United States, Canada, England, South Korea and the Philippines. During opening Eucharist, the Prayers of the People were offered in nine languages – Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Karen, Tongan, Hmong and English – a representation of the diverse ethnicities present.

The presiding bishop preached to a packed crowd during the consultation’s opening Eucharist held Sept. 27 here at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew. The Rt. Rev. Allen K. Shin, bishop suffragan in the Diocese of New York, presided. The offering went to the Philippine Episcopal Church’s response to aid those impacted by Typhoon Mangkhut, a massive storm that brought torrential rain and 165 mph winds to the island of Luzon on Sept. 15, 2018, killing upwards of 100 people and displacing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

“I really do believe that what you are doing that this ministry … gathering the Asian-American community wherever you may be, gathering together as part of the Episcopal-Anglican way of being Christian – that this gathering together has more significance than just coming to a church meeting,” said Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, during his sermon at the opening Eucharist.

“We are about the business … of real evangelism. That is not sectarianism; real evangelism is not about making a bigger church. Real evangelism is about being a better world. Real evangelism is about what our slave ancestors were talking about when they used to sing, ‘Oh there’s plenty good room, plenty good room, plenty good room in the flawless kingdom.’

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached during the Sept. 27 opening Eucharist of the Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries National Consultation in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Photo: Christopher Sikkema

“Plenty good room for all God’s children. Real evangelism is about changing this world from the nightmare it often is into the dream that God intended from the time God first said let there be anything at all,” he said.

Curry referenced June’s royal wedding, where he preached about Jesus’s love for the world, and how the love of two people brought together an audience of two billion people to witness that love.

During the service, the ANDREWS program and its first group of mentors were introduced.

ANDREWS, an acronym for Asiamerica Network of Disciples, Revivalists, Evangelists, Witnesses and Servant Leaders, is a mentoring program of the Asiamerica Ministries Office in Partnership with Episcopal Asiamerica Ministry Council and the “Thriving Ministry Project” of Virginia Theological Seminary.

ANDREWS’ goal is to develop a network of well-trained mentors and disciple-makers from among the EAM ethnic convocations – Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander. “Rice and Sing,” an anthology of diverse, Asian-cultural hymns and spiritual songs; in-person training; and a virtual classroom are in development.

“We have big plans for the mentoring program, we want to develop 70 well-trained Asian-American-Episcopalians to do evangelism, church planting,” and revival of churches, said Vergara – topics that were explored through the lens of the Jesus Movement and the Way of Love on Sept. 28 during the opening plenary session.

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation, talked about her own journey to reclaiming Christianity, a path that took her into eastern religious philosophy before she returned to Christianity and reclaimed Jesus; something the Episcopal Church is now doing, she said.

Growing up she didn’t want to have much relationship to Jesus or Christ, Spellers said. “Christianity was exclusive and filled with doctrines, rules, rigid belief systems and Jesus was sort of the king and judge lording over all of that,” said Spellers. “There was no other way of presenting it.”

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation, center, talks during a Sept. 28 plenary session about her own journey to reclaiming Christianity. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Then she ended up studying in the religious department at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, a Southern Baptist school. Her studies started her on a different spiritual path, one focused on practice and a way of being and living. Eventually, after going deeper into eastern traditions, she came back to Christianity after a Buddhist nun in San Francisco, California, told her to reclaim Christianity.

“It feels like that’s what we are doing as an Episcopal church right now. We are reclaiming Christianity not as only a rigid belief system, a set of doctrines and dos and don’ts; we are certainly reclaiming Christianity as a community that raises all the people, not just some of the people, but I think what we are doing especially today is we’re reclaiming the way of being Christian as being a follower of Jesus in a way, on a path. And that’s the understanding … I have of what is the Jesus Movement.

“And actually, the Jesus Movement is simply the community of people who say ‘I’m following Jesus, I’m following on his path. I’m following his way.’ He has shown us a way; a way of love and I want that way to be my way. And I want to change, I want to see my own life changed, and then I want to be a part of changing this world because of that way.”

The consultation includes two days of workshops, which were livestreamed and can be viewed on demand here.

Workshop topics include: Issues in Hawai’ian Sovereignty, Identity and Reconciliation, Living into a Healed Community Through Hawai’ian Dance, Anti-Human Trafficking (Mission to End Modern Day Slavery), Evangelism in the New Community and Toward Peace in Community. The two additional plenary sessions topics are: Becoming Beloved Community and Caring for the Earth and All Creation. The consultation continues through Oct. 1, when Vergara will preach at the closing Eucharist.

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

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African bishops call for ecological justice to top agenda at Lambeth Conference

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 5:54pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A number of African Anglican bishops have said that “Good News for creation and ecological justice” should be placed at the top of the agenda for the Lambeth Conference in 2020. The bishops also say that it should be addressed by dioceses, provinces, and the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa.

Read the full article here.

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New members of Lambeth monastic community take vow for ‘year in God’s time’

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 5:52pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The latest members of the St. Anselm’s community at Lambeth Palace have been commissioned by the archbishop of Canterbury. Nineteen members – from various Church traditions – took their vows in a service at the palace’s chapel Sept. 28, an occasion Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby described as one of the high points of his year.

St. Anselm’s provides an opportunity for young people aged 20 to 35 to “spend a year in God’s time” in new-monastic community with a shared Rule of Life focused on prayer, study and service to the most vulnerable in society.

Read the full article here.

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Theologically themed comic convention aims to examine intersection of faith, pop culture

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 4:14pm

[Episcopal News Service] Many years before he would become the presiding bishop’s canon for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Charles Robertson was a comic book fan.

“I learned how to read on comic books,” Robertson said. The first he remembers reading was “Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes,” a futuristic and optimistic fantasy in which the forces of good fight the forces of evil.

Superhero conventions might not seem an obvious place to discuss Jesus and the Gospel, but fans of comic books and the Good Book will take center stage Sept. 29 as Virginia Theological Seminary hosts ΘeoCon – pronounced “theo-con,” for theological convention. Its tagline is “where theology meets pop culture,” and Robertson is on the list of presenters and panelists.

The Rev. Charles Robertson, the presiding bishop’s canon for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church, is seen in a promotional graphic for ΘeoCon, in which he is participating on Sept. 29.

“I jumped at this for a couple reasons,” Robertson said. “Pop culture is so much a part of our culture now, and yet I think that we in the church often are slow to engage with things that are current.” He also sees fertile theological ground in discussions of the myth-creation at the core of comic books and science fiction.

Comic-cons have become big events across the country and big business, with the comic and film industry rolling out samples of their upcoming content for a hungry fan base.

There’s the New York Comic-Con next month, with panelists including “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson. San Diego Comic-Con is said to be the largest in the country and regularly features big-name Hollywood franchises. And this weekend’s Baltimore Comic-Con, which bills itself as “American’s Greatest Comic Book Convention,” coincides with the one-day ΘeoCon at the opposite end of the Washington, D.C., metro area.

At Virginia Theological Seminary, in Alexandria, the fun kicks off at 9 a.m. Sept. 29. In addition to Robertson, participants will include the Rev. Judy Fentress-Williams, an Old Testament professor at the seminary; the Rev. Patricia Lyons, the Diocese of Washington’s missioner for evangelism and community engagement; and the Rev. Wesley Sun, an American Baptist Churches minister who produces graphic novels through Sun Bros Studios.

“We are a collective of geeks, nerds, enthusiasts, clergy, laity and just plain downright awesome people who share the love of pop culture and the power of myth as seen in many sacred adventures,” the convention’s website explains. “ΘeoCon welcomes you to the place where theology and morality meet pop culture and where faith meets fiction.”

The event was created by Shayna Watson, who earned her Master of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary and an Anglican Studies diploma from Virginia Theological Seminary. She is now curate at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

On the convention website, she calls pop culture “our common ground and language,” which offers opportunities to reach “populations of people whom the church misses.”

“There are undeniable themes of theology and morality throughout pop culture,” she writes. “Good versus evil or the rise of the underdog are too often seen as secular themes rather than as part of God’s story.”

Superman is a notable example: a boy from a dying planet is sent here to save our planet. “Star Wars” is another science fiction fable with parallels to the story of Christ, featuring a swashbuckling savior figure mastering the Force to defeat the Dark Side.

Robertson said he was struck by a more recent example, a scene from the first “Avengers” movie from 2012, in which the hero asks if the stars and stripes on his Captain America uniform would be a little “old fashioned.”

“With everything that’s happening, the things that are about to come to light, people might just need a little old fashioned,” replies the character Phil Coulson of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency.

Not everything “old” is praiseworthy, Robertson cautioned, but he thinks the Episcopal Church offers a connection to “something very profound that folks are looking for.”

One thing he thinks people are seeking is “heroic” stories. “One time our kids knew the stories of Biblical heroes,” he said, and the “new myth-making” underway in sci-fi fiction and comics comes at a time when many people have grown cynical about our real-life leaders.

At ΘeoCon, Robertson said, “I welcome the chance for us to be able to engage on how our faith and our ministry intersects with the revitalization of myth through comics.”

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

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Students, clergy gather in Dallas to consider ordained ministry at Radical Vocation Conference

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 3:24pm

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby addresses the Radical Vocation Conference for young people considering ordained ministry in Anglican and Episcopal churches.

[Episcopal News Service] The Radical Vocation Conference at Church of the Incarnation in Dallas Sept. 20-22 drew an international crowd of young adults as well as other interested clergy and laity for three days of reflection on the priesthood. The group was given a unique opportunity to hear from top leaders in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion about vocations in the ordained ministry.

Speakers included Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Bishop N. T. Wright, Stanley Hauerwas, the Rev. Ephraim Radner and the Rev. Oliver O’Donovan. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary-general of the Anglican Consultative Council, were also in attendance. The conference, which was sponsored by the Communion Partner Bishops, the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas and Church of the Incarnation, attracted 400 people.

Bishop George Sumner of the Diocese of Dallas welcomed the guests during a solemn evensong service. “We who are longer in the tooth hope this weekend will be a powerful moment of encouragement and discernment for a new generation of leadership in our church,” he said. “Be assured you are daily in our prayers that in the words of St. Paul, ‘you might continue to be ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through you – be reconciled to God.’”

Welby delivered an eloquent sermon creating a mood of prayerful discernment and encouragement when he said that priests are “called to be children of light” to the world. He told the crowd of young discerners that they should be radical, the extremists of love who turn the whole world upside down.

He also spoke about the importance of vocation because of a declining number of faithful in the Western world. Welby said the priesthood is radical “because we follow the revolutionary Christ,” and “confront the darkness at every point which causes trouble.”

Attendees prayed, worshipped, and listened to lectures and panel discussions as they studied how they were being called to serve the kingdom of God. Hauerwas, a professor emeritus of divinity and law at Duke Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina, spoke about the church and pastoral care and how it is not only the work of the ordained. The care that Christians give one another stems from the reality and realization that Jesus is Lord, he said.

A breakout speaker, Elisabeth Kincaid, who teaches moral theology and Christian ethics at Notre Dame University, spoke about virtuous leadership and the priesthood. The goal, she said, is to become the kind of person who makes appropriate decisions naturally, and to use reason to determine how to live in the community harmoniously. Virtues needed for this, she said, are temperance, modesty, humility, prudence and courage.

Church of England priest and ethicist Oliver O’Donovan’s humor and frankness during his session were hugely popular. “His lecture on the importance of good preaching was just excellent,” said Ben Davis, an attendee from Kansas.

O’Donovan advised against starting a sermon with a personal anecdote, entertaining story or news item. Instead, the preacher should make the connection between the church and the text of scripture, to search and discover what the congregation needs to hear. He said the scriptural text can be challenging: “[t]he passage you are given from an Epistle may begin with ‘Therefore,’ so be sure to explore the context in which the passage is given.” He noted that it takes about six hours of preparation for a 20-minute sermon. “The scattered contents of your mind need to be cleared away to discover that golden thread God has given you,” he said. “Let the text speak to you as though you have never read it before.”

New Testament scholar and retired Bishop N. T. Wright spoke about the sacramental ministry of the priest, describing it as standing at the fault line between heaven and earth and “knowing the dangerous joy of sacramental life.” Wright was emphatic that one can’t divorce the sacraments or sacramental life from the biblical story. “If you take the symbol out of the story … the whole thing falls apart,” he said. The priest needs to remember with every gesture that “you are playing music written in heaven … and [God] wants his song to be sung well.”

Representatives of seminaries and divinity schools also attended the conference in hopes of attracting students. “People are interested in our Master of Divinity program,” said Barbara Jenkins from Wycliffe College in Toronto. “We also have a lot of students and alumni here, so it’s good to reconnect.” Dallas Theological Seminary let folks know about a new Anglican/Episcopal track, and Oklahoma Christian University set up a table to tell about its online MA in Christianity and Culture. Bishop Jim Mathes from Virginia Theological Seminary said he enjoyed talking to people about their vocations and noted the diversity of attendees. “The mix is, not surprisingly, eclectic when you put the words ‘Radical Vocation’ in the program.”

The conference was a huge success, said the Rev. Jeremy Bergstrom, canon for vocations in the Diocese of Dallas. “I couldn’t be more grateful that work done by our diocese could point so many to Jesus Christ and encourage them to ask the question, ‘Is the priesthood for me?’ Please pray that Christ would use this to persuade many to enter into discernment for the renewal of our church.”

Prior to the conference, Welby and Curry participated in a question-and-answer session at St. Michael and All Angels Church, an event sponsored by the Anglican Centre in Rome. The two were reunited just a few months after serving in the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and joked like old friends; at one point, Curry quipped that he was Welby’s “sidekick.” The two talked about Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding and how it made worldwide news.

“On the way to Windsor Palace the archbishop told me, ‘Don’t hold back,’” Curry said.

“I wanted Michael to get out of the way,” he added. “This was God’s moment. That’s what I prayed for.”

Welby spoke about the Anglican Centre in Rome and said that the Anglican Church and Roman Catholic Church need to work together for the common good. It’s the outpouring of love that brings the churches together, he said. Welby noted that reconciliation is an Anglican strength and spoke about how the lack of a central authority, like a pope, is a blessing for Christian relationships. “We have to come to our agreements [ourselves] and not by someone saying, ‘This is what we are doing.’”

Overall, the three days brought serious thought and discussion about the ordained life. Sumner summed up the Radical Vocation Conference when he told the group, “My hope for each person attending is that you will hear the Gospel afresh, learn more about the apostolic tradition conveying it, of which the Anglican way is a part, and consider anew the call of the ordained and their life in the service of both.”

– Kimberly Durnan is director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas.

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Pumpkin patch leads to much more than pies

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 2:39pm

The Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch is open seven days a week throughout October or until the pumpkins sell out. Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest days, and sales always pick up the closer it gets to Halloween. Photo: Randy Cockrill

If you drive down SE Main Street in Simpsonville, South Carolina, during October you can’t miss the Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch. Piles and piles of pumpkins – thousands of them – in all shapes and sizes are for sale. But these pumpkins do far more than just decorate homes or get turned into jack-o-lanterns.

It all began 13 years ago, when Holy Cross Episcopal Church faced a budget crisis. The congregation was part of the Golden Strip Church Coalition, an alliance of local churches that had agreed to combine their time, talent and treasure annually to build one house for Habitat for Humanity. But with the church’s budget stretched thin, it appeared Holy Cross would fall short of its financial commitment to the coalition.

A small committee met to discuss the problem. Folks were feeling pretty low. Where could they possibly get the dollars needed?

That’s when Ennis Whiddon piped up. “I’ve got this idea. How about we sell pumpkins?” he said.

Whiddon went on to explain how selling $6,000 worth of pumpkins would result in $1,000 profit to go towards the Habitat build.

It’s all hands on deck when a tractor trailer shipment of 3,000 pumpkins and gourds arrives. Photo: Randy Cockrill

The room grew quiet. People shuffled in their seats. The idea of selling thousands of dollars worth of pumpkins sounded a little crazy.

Whiddon pressed on. He explained that Holy Cross could order pumpkins from Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers, which ran a farm in Farmington, New Mexico. The pumpkins would be trucked to Simpsonville in a semi.

“If we don’t sell them, we owe nothing,” Whiddon explained.

“Ennis had a get-it-done attitude,” recalls the Rev. Michael Flanagan, rector of Holy Cross. “He was kind of like a dog with a bone. When he got an idea, he didn’t let go of it easily.”

With no money down and no contract to sign, the idea seemed too good to be true. Ennis urged Holy Cross to take a leap of faith. The Vaughn family, members of the church and owners of Vaughn’s Country Store, provided a prime location in the heart of Simpsonville, thus assuring the sale good visibility. The church ordered one quarter of a tractor trailer load of pumpkins and gourds to be delivered at the start of October.

When the pumpkins arrived and folks saw just how high those pumpkins piled, many a parishioner began praying that they would manage to sell them all sell by month’s end. Their apprehensions were soon allayed. The first shipment sold out so quickly that another semi was dispatched to deliver more.

In one month, Holy Cross sold $17,000 worth of pumpkins, gourds and ornamental corn. In doing so, they raised $5,500 for Habitat for Humanity. The Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch became an annual event.

The Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch offers the best assortment of pumpkins and gourds in the Simpsonville area. Their prices are the lowest, but 100% of profits are donated to Upstate charities. Donations last year totaled $26,325.

What it takes

The first 2018 organizing meeting took place in May. A second was held late in August, but by then some

behind the scenes work had already begun. Promotion within the church and volunteer sign-up started right after Labor Day. Actual setup will begin the weekend before opening day.

Early in the morning on October 6, the first semi full of pumpkins will be unloaded by volunteers from Holy Cross. The patch will open for business later that morning and the fun will begin.

To staff the patch seven days per week for 26 days, volunteers must cover 248 two-hour shifts. These shifts are covered primarily by folks from Holy Cross, a congregation of 500 adult members. Volunteers from other churches and community organizations also pitch in. In addition, daily opening and closing work is required.

To receive this year’s total order of 9,000 pumpkins, two additional tractor trailers will arrive at later dates. These will be unloaded by volunteers from some of the charities the Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch helps to support.

Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers grows the pumpkins in cooperation with the Navajo Nation. Their 1,200 acre farm employs more than 700 Native Americans during September and October, as well as a full time off-season staff comprised entirely of Native Americans. In a region where unemployment exceeds 40%, jobs at this farm are highly prized.

Carts make shopping easy for all ages, and all ages love the pumpkin patch. Many people return year after year. Photo: Randy Cockrill

What the patch gives

“Our charter dictates that 100% of our proceeds must be donated to 501C3 non-profits that support people in our own area of upstate South Carolina,” says Randy Cockrill, who has served as St. Cross’ lead pumpkin patch organizer for the past six years.

“The Pumpkin Patch enables our congregation to make a big positive impact,” he said. “This year we’ll be giving funds to Habitat for Humanity, as well as seven other ministry partners.”

In 12 years’ time, Holy Cross has donated $239,666 to charities that provide food, shelter, clothing, adult ESL classes, employment services and more to neighbors in need – all thanks to the pumpkin patch.

The church invites each ministry partner to make a presentation at Holy Cross. Plus, each partner is visited by a member of the church during the course of the year.

“In 2017 we helped to support ten ministry partners,” says Cockrill. “This year we selected just eight so that we can provide more significant amounts to each one.”

Local animal shelters also benefit. Soft or damaged pumpkins are culled from the patch and donated to them to help feed the animals in their care.

Members of Holy Cross and others who volunteer at the patch develop connections that continue long after the last pumpkin is sold each year.

Ennis Whiddon, who died in 2015, had foreseen the pumpkin patch as a fundraiser and a community builder. What the patch has grown to be, however, exceeds his vision.

Through working together, the members of Holy Cross achieve something they would be unable to achieve individually.

You might say they turn piles of pumpkins into gold for their community.

For more: Facebook @PumpkinPatchSimpsonvilleSC or follow HolyCrossPumpkinPatch on Instagram.

–Laurie Wozniak, a member of St. Cross Church, recently relocated to South Carolina from the Buffalo, New York, area.

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Aftermath of Hurricane Florence brings out ‘best of the human spirit’ in coastal North Carolina

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 7:23pm

Volunteers from St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Columbia, South Carolina, join with Army National Guard members from Charlotte on Sept. 24 in cleaning up a playground area on the grounds of Christ Episcopal Church in New Bern, a North Carolina city that was hit hard by Hurricane Florence. Photo: Christ Episcopal Church, via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] What does hurricane recovery look like to the Rev. Ron Abrams? Hurricane Florence, which devastated parts of the Carolinas two weeks ago, downed a tree but did little other damage to the church grounds and facilities of St. James Parish in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he is rector.

Abrams downplayed the damage at St. James. For him, the image of hurricane recovery is one of goodwill and an eagerness to help others, some of whom have lost nearly everything.

“People are really caring about each other. I’ve seen the best of the human spirit,” Abrams told Episcopal News Service. “You just hope the goodwill continues, but it’s going to take a while. There’s some real significant damage.”

Episcopal congregations and dioceses in the path of the storm, with support from Episcopal Relief & Development, have rallied behind their communities in a range of ways, from the “de-mucking” crew of parishioners assembled by St. James to the supplies drive organized by Christ Episcopal Church in New Bern, North Carolina, another city hit hard by the storm.

Since Florence made landfall Sept. 15 near Wilmington, congregation members have taken the lead in serving as the Episcopal Church’s outreach ministers to their communities. The Diocese of East Carolina, which includes the coastal third of North Carolina, has remained in regular contact with local clergy, and Bishop Rob Skirving will travel to Wilmington on Sept. 28 for a three-day visit with clergy, parishioners and residents.

One of Skirving’s goals is “just being present with them, trying to be supportive,” he said in an interview with ENS.

Within the first two days of the storm’s arrival, he and two of his canons teamed up to contact more than 100 diocesan clergy members by phone to make sure they were all right and to check on their congregations’ initial needs. A week ago, on Sept. 20, Skirving visited New Bern to meet with Christ Episcopal Church clergy and some of the residents who were cleaning up their houses after floodwaters receded.

One of his first stops Sept. 28 will be a meeting with clergy of the deanery at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Southport, near Wilmington – a chance to bring people together to talk about their experiences in this time of struggle.

“While it’s not as critical as some of the hands-on relief work, it’s still an important part,” Skirving said.

Churches along the North Carolina coast are helping with the hands-on work as well. St. James, the city’s oldest church, is in the center of Wilmington and was able to open its doors quickly after the storm to house relief workers needing a place to stay. Search and rescue operations are mostly concluded, and the focus has turned to clearing and gutting formerly flooded houses so they can be fixed.

“The issue with the flooding in houses is if you don’t get everything stripped to the studs before the mold sets in, the houses aren’t usable,” Abrams said.

He estimates his congregation has room to provide housing for up to 50 relief workers in the parish house and other spaces at the church. Work groups with established relief organizations have brought volunteers from all over the country to St. James, including one man from Australia. Parishioners have responded by donating supplies to help welcome the workers.

Across town, Church of the Servant Episcopal Church also made it through the storm without much damage, and since then the Rev. Jody Greenwood, rector, has been checking in on her parishioners as they assess the status of their properties.

Some lost trees and fences, Greenwood said. Others are dealing with damaged cars and flooded homes. Greenwood, too, is saying at a friend’s house while her own roof is repaired after being damaged during Florence. But even the lucky ones who escaped great personal loss can feel the trauma of an upended landscape that no longer looks familiar.

“I think the emotional wear and tear of seeing things that felt so secure become less secure needs to be taken seriously,” Greenwood said.

She also has attended meetings of an ecumenical group that is helping to coordinate long-term relief efforts. The group secured a warehouse for six months to hold supplies; use of that facility could be extended another six months, she said.

“It’s going to be a long process,” Greenwood said.

After canceling Sunday services in the immediate aftermath of the storm, the congregation combined its normal three services to one on Sept. 23. More than 100 parishioners attended, though many were still out of town after fleeing the storm.

Greenwood expects attendance will swell on Sept. 30. “I think people just really want to see each other,” she said, and Skirving is scheduled to preach at the service.

In New Bern, the Rev. Paul Canady, rector of Christ Episcopal Church, said Florence left about 15 families and individual members of the congregation homeless, either because their houses are in need of significant repairs or are beyond repair.

“That’s a strain on them. That’s a strain on all of us,” he said. “And I feel like what we’re doing well is we’re trying to love each other through all of this and try to be patient with each other.”

He noted that even parishioners whose homes sustained major damage are out in the community offering to help their neighbors. Outside groups also have arrived to assist New Bern in bouncing back.

Although Christ Episcopal Church mostly was spared by Florence, the storm left a trail of tree branches and debris in the church playground. A group from St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Columbia, South Carolina, which is staying at Canady’s church this week while they help with relief efforts, spent time in the playground Sept. 24 leading a cleanup.

Life in New Bern may not return to normal for a while. The schools have canceled classes the past two weeks, and Canady, whose children are in first and fourth grades, wasn’t sure as of early Sept. 27 whether classes would resume next week. Some school facilities are still serving as shelters, and other schools were damaged in the storm or need to be tested for mold.

Worship services at Christ Episcopal Church resumed Sept. 23, after the power was restored and the air conditioning was up and running again. Canady, though, said his focus has been on getting into the community and checking in with parishioners.

Greenwood said she grew up on Long Island, New York, and experienced her share of hurricanes, but they didn’t prepare her for Florence.

“This one was pretty bad,” she said. “I’ve had parishioners in their 90s tell me this was the worst hurricane they’ve ever seen.”

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

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Anglicans attend Vatican-hosted ecumenical conference on challenging xenophobia

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 2:49pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans attending a joint World Council of Churches and Vatican conference in Rome have spoken out on the need to counter xenophobia and racism towards refugees and migrants. Anglican experts were called to the World Conference on Xenophobia, Racism and Populist Nationalism in the Context of Global Migration, which took place in Rome from 18 to 20 September, co-sponsored by Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the WCC, with the support of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Read the full article here.

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Episcopal clergywomen raise concerns about Danforth’s comments on Kavanaugh allegations

Wed, 09/26/2018 - 4:13pm

John Danforth signs a copy of his book “The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People Can Change Politics” for Diocese of New York Bishop Andrew Dietsche after Danforth’s September 2016 presentation to the House of Bishops. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] A letter to the New York Times this week that was endorsed by hundreds of Episcopal clergywomen raises concerns about comments former U.S. Sen. John Danforth, a Missouri Republican and Episcopal priest, made about the confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump’s latest nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The letter, posted to the Times’ website on Sept. 25, was authored by the Rev. Teresa Danieley, a Missouri priest, and was submitted with 327 additional names attached. The clergywomen specifically question Danforth’s defense of Brett Kavanaugh, 53, in the face of allegations the judge sexually assaulted a teenage girl while he was in high school.

“No one, not least a priest of the church, should publicly shame, blame or question the motives of women who step forward to report instances of sexual abuse,” the letter says. “Those in ordained ministry are called to display Christ’s love for both accuser and accused, fulfilling the baptismal promise to strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being.”

328 women clergy in The Episcopal Church sign letter criticizing former Sen. John Danforth, also an Episcopal priest, for saying he feels "terribly sorry" for Kavanaugh, while showing no compassion for the women. https://t.co/2SmIElZ8AA @nytimes @episcopalchurch

— Laurie Goodstein (@lauriegnyt) September 25, 2018

Danforth, in an email to Episcopal News Service, strongly objected to how the letter described his comments about Kavanaugh.

“The characterizations in the letter bear no resemblance to anything I have ever said or thought. Specifically, I have never shamed, blamed or questioned the motives of women who report instances of sexual abuse,” Danforth said. “I believe that both the accused and the accuser should be heard.”

Danieley first learned of Danforth’s defense of Kavanaugh in the Times from a friend in seminary.

“Personally, it was just very dismaying that he would say anything at all,” Danieley told ENS in a phone interview. “It just seems antithetical to a pastoral response.”

The Episcopal Church has grappled with its own neglect in addressing sexual harassment. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, issued a call to the church in January to examine its history of failures to protect victims of harassment, exploitation and abuse.

“When facts dictate, we must confess and repent of those times when the church, its ministers or its members have been antagonistic or unresponsive to people—women, children and men—who have been sexually exploited or abused,” Curry and Jennings said in their letter to the church.

Kavanaugh, a federal Court of Appeals judge, had appeared headed for confirmation in the Republican-controlled Senate, with supporters describing him as one of the most qualified nominees to be picked for the nation’s highest court. The allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford have thrown the confirmation into question, with two more women coming forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when he was young. Kavanaugh has denied all the allegations.

The allegations also have led to comparisons to the confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991 and the sexual harassment allegations against Thomas made by law professor Anita Hill. Danforth, a senator at the time and a prominent Thomas defender, was quoted by the New York Times in a Sept. 17 story headlined “Echoes of Anita Hill, but in a Different Era for Women.”

“I just feel so terribly sorry for Kavanaugh and what he’s going through,” Danforth told the Times. “Here’s a man who’s had just a marvelous reputation as a human being and now it’s just being trashed. I felt the same way about Clarence.”

Danforth also referenced the #MeToo movement, in which women have gone public with similar allegations of harassment, assault and sexual misconduct by prominent men. “With the #MeToo movement, it makes it even harder for him,” Danforth said in the Times’ report. “It was bad enough for Clarence, but this is really going to be difficult.”

Danforth also discussed Kavanaugh’s nomination Sept. 19 in an interview with CNN, calling the confirmation process “totally out of control.”

After talking with Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith about Danforth’s comments, Danieley drafted a letter in response, and a group of female Episcopal clergy offered feedback and helped edit the letter.

Danieley said she shared the text of the letter Sept. 22 to two Facebook groups with primarily Episcopal women as members and invited those who agreed with the sentiments to add their names to the letter through a Google Form. She learned later that the letter had been re-shared on a diocesan clergy email list, generating additional support.

By the time Danieley submitted the letter to the Times, 328 names were attached.

The Rev. Susan Russell, associate rector at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, was among the women who endorsed the letter. “For me it was a no-brainer opportunity,” Russell told ENS by email, “to hold a brother priest accountable for behavior that runs counter to our baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of every human being by categorically dismissing the lived experience of survivors of abuse.”

Former Sen. John Danforth (R-Missouri), an Episcopal priest, center, talks with Chicago Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee, left, and Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith before Danforth’s September 2016 presentation to the House of Bishops. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Danforth, a lawyer who is identified as a partner in the Missouri law firm Dowd Bennett, received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School and has written several books about the intersection of faith and politics. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1977 to 1994.

Although Danforth’s quotes in the Times don’t directly reference Kavanaugh’s accuser, Danieley said the comments struck her as one-sided.

“To me this isn’t an attack on Danforth – I mean, he did make public comments, so it’s legitimate to respond to public comments – but rather reiterates that [clergy] are supposed to be responsive when people come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct,” she said.

Curry and Jennings called on Episcopalians to spend Ash Wednesday 2018 “meditating on the ways in which we in the church have failed to stand with women and other victims of abuse and harassment” and, during Lent, to consider “how we can redouble our work to be communities of safety that stand against the spiritual and physical violence of sexual exploitation and abuse.”

Taking up that call, the House of Bishops held a “Liturgy of Listening” in Austin, Texas, on July 4 during the 79th General Convention to share stories from victims of sexual misconduct perpetrated by someone in the church, chosen from 40 stories submitted in response to the bishops’ request for reflections.

“People who courageously step forward with allegations of sexual harassment or assault deserve to be heard and respected,” the Episcopal clergywomen say in their letter to the Times. “We can and must demand better from our clergy, even if we cannot expect better from secular authorities.”

Danieley, a former parish priest who now works for the nonprofit Missouri Jobs With Justice, said it was important to speak out now and make this a “teachable moment” – “that what we say matters and how we respond to women who make accusations matter.”

Danforth, in his email to ENS, called Thomas’ 1991 confirmation hearings “perhaps the worst experience of my life.” Helping his “dear friend” get through that period is why he now feels “terribly sorry” for Kavanaugh.

He said the problem is in how the Senate confirms Supreme Court nominees. “Something is very wrong,” he said, without elaborating on what is broken.

“With the writers of the letter,” he said, “I embrace ‘the baptismal promise to strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being.’  However, the circumstances surrounding the Kavanaugh confirmation are the antithesis of that baptismal promise.”

Senate Republicans have scheduled a hearing for Sept. 27 at which Kavanaugh and his accuser, Ford, are scheduled to testify. A committee vote to move the nomination forward could come as soon as the next day, potentially sending Kavanaugh to a full vote in the Senate, where Republicans have a slim two-vote majority.

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

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Anglican diocese launches floating church on London river

Wed, 09/26/2018 - 3:10pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Diocese of London has launched another new church in its plan to develop 100 new worshipping communities by 2020 – this time on a floating barge in the River Lea Navigation. St. Columba’s Church will eventually be housed in a new purpose-built floating barge, but last week it launched in its temporary home on board the Elsdale II.

Read the full article here.

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Minnesota Bishop Brian Prior announces plans for retirement, seeking new bishop

Tue, 09/25/2018 - 5:22pm

[Diocese of Minnesota] Bishop Brian Prior issued a statement on Sept. 25 announcing he plans to step down after nearly a decade of service leading the Diocese of Minnesota. His retirement announcement says the diocese’s 10th bishop will be consecrated in February 2020. The full statement follows.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With the beginning of my 10th year of serving as the Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota on the horizon, and after much prayer and conversations, the Spirit has led me to believe that it is time to begin the process of calling the 10th Bishop of Minnesota.

The question inevitably is, why now? ECMN is clear about its calling to engage God’s mission of becoming the Beloved Community. In every corner and in countless neighborhoods faithful Episcopalians are participating in the Jesus movement through building relationships and cultivating partnerships across the great state of Minnesota.

ECMN is incredibly healthy. We are blessed to have great clergy and lay leaders, a phenomenal Team of Missioners and very competent leaders at all our affiliates. Our Elected Bodies and our Mission Areas are functioning at a high level of collaborative leadership. We are, and have been for a number of years, very financially solid; including being debt free on all ECMN properties.

Why now? Because what I have learned in over three decades of leadership and ministry development is that the best time for leadership transition is when the organization is healthy, has strong shared leadership, and a clear sense of its mission. ECMN is in a great position to expand its capacity for engaging God’s mission of the Beloved Community.

Serving as Bishop of ECMN is an incredible privilege and an immense blessing. I absolutely love serving as the Bishop here. And that, too, is why now. Because I believe others should have the opportunity to serve in such a Spirit-filled place with such gifted people. It’s a great time for me to get out of the way and create space for the Spirit to bring whom you will bless next as you have immeasurably blessed me.

My family and close friends know that for years I have had a countdown app on my phone that marked the date I was eligible to activate my pension. That date was a little over a year ago. During the last year, Staci and I began to discern what a next chapter might look like for us and our family. Bishop Todd Ousley, Bishop for Pastoral Development, Presiding Bishop Curry and a few close colleagues and confidants have walked with us during this time and we are exploring a myriad of possibilities to use our gifts for God’s mission. Staci and I would greatly appreciate your prayers.

The election of your 10th Bishop will be at our ECMN Convention. The Ordination and Consecration of your 10th Bishop will be in February of 2020. Between the election and the Consecration I will take a portion of that time for my unused sabbatical. In short order, the Standing Committee, working with Bishop Ousley will call a search Committee and Transition Committee.

As ECMN begins this season of discernment for the 10th Bishop, we will continue to engage God’s mission of the Beloved Community. As always, I invite all of us to pray deeply and participate fully.

Click here for a resource to use as a bulletin insert or for wider communication.

The Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior

IX Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota

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Cree priest becomes suffragan bishop in a first for Canadian area mission

Tue, 09/25/2018 - 5:13pm

[Anglican Journal] Archdeacon Larry Beardy, a Cree priest, educator and former executive archdeacon of the Diocese of Keewatin, was consecrated first indigenous suffragan bishop of the Northern Manitoba Area Mission – a new grouping of parishes within the indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh – at a ceremony at Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba on Sept. 23.

Read the full article here.

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Archbishop of Canterbury on US trip preaches of God’s wisdom as light for confused world

Tue, 09/25/2018 - 3:52pm

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby preaches Sept. 23 at Trinity Church Wall Street in this image from the congregation’s video of the sermon.

[Episcopal News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke of the vision, wisdom and light that the Gospel and followers of Jesus can bring to “a world of puzzlement and confusion” in sermons during recent stops on a trip to the United States.

Welby, head of the Anglican Communion, was in Dallas, Texas, last week to participate in a vocational conference, and he preached Sept. 23 at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York with a message to spread the wisdom of the Gospel to the world.

“The reality of Jesus is seen in a holy people of prayer, who desire God from the bottom of their hearts,” Welby said at Trinity Wall Street.

“The search for God-centered wisdom from above, the holy understanding of what to do now, begins with our identity, which is found truthfully in Christ alone,” Welby said. “That will only happen when we are outward-looking.”

He praised Trinity Wall Street for its outward focus in seeking to serve others, and he emphasized the importance of practicing simplicity and heeding God’s wisdom from above.

“Christ called his disciples to ‘go,’ … But to go we must listen,” he said.

The sermon drew on a range of allusions, from the threat of climate change to the example of a Catholic archbishop who spent time in captivity during the Vietnam War. The text of the sermon is here; a video is here.

His earlier appearance in Dallas kicked off Sept. 20 with a joint event with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church. Welby and Curry spoke about love and reconciliation in today’s world in a discussion sponsored by the American Friends of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

That event was followed later in the day by Welby’s appearance at RADVO, which stands for Radical Vocation, a three-day conference on discerning the call to priesthood. It was presented by Communion Partners, http://communionpartners.org/ a group of Episcopal and Anglican traditionalists.

Welby preached at the Evensong on Sept. 20 at Church of the Incarnation, Dallas.

“Let me be clear; although as Anglicans we are already in a church divided globally since the Great Schism, and far more so since the Reformation … we are called in everything we do to be together, despite all the difficulties involved,” Welby said.

Christians also are called to be “children of light,” he continued.

“The nature of ordained ministry is to seek to ensure that the church shines a light that illuminates,” Welby said, “and yet to find oneself doing that in a confusing world, where options and choices often have the appearance of equal validity.”

The text of Welby’s sermon can be found here.

During his trip to Dallas, Welby also visited the Texas School Book Depository, where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the bullets that killed President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1063, Anglican Communion News Service reported.

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

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Episcopal Church in Puerto Rico implements long-term recovery strategy a year after Maria

Tue, 09/25/2018 - 1:08pm

Elisa Sanchez, a member of Puerto Rico’s Occupy Movement who also works for Episcopal Social Services, explains the plans to retrofit one of the many schools closed by the government for housing and a community center. Listening are Edith Aquino, a member of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church and a volunteer at the former school, and Lydia Pendleton, a Young Adult Service Corps volunteer from New Hampshire serving the Diocese of Puerto Rico. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – San Juan, Puerto Rico] In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico Bishop Rafael Morales Maldonado issued an order for all Episcopal churches on the island to open their doors to the community. In doing so, the churches became points of distribution for emergency supplies, and also symbols of hope.

“I believe the Episcopal Church in Puerto Rico was, after the hurricane, and is a great beacon of hope in this country,” said Morales in an interview with Episcopal News Service in his office in Trujillo Alto, a barrio of San Juan.

Many people, he said, came to know the Episcopal Church as a result of Maria. The Diocese of Puerto Rico has 52 congregations located throughout the island, some in hard-to-reach remote mountain regions, in small towns, on the island of Vieques and in the cities. The priests and church members reached out to everybody in the community, “offering love,” he said. And, as a result, the church has welcomed new “brothers and sisters.”

The Rev. Ana Maria Mendez, vicar of St. James and St. Philip the Apostles, describes her church as a “church of the street.” Mendez also directs the diocese’s disaster response program, REDES. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Those efforts continue as the diocese, in partnership with other agencies and organizations, continues to offer mission and education fairs in communities across the island. The most recent took place in Yabucoa on Sept. 20, the one-year anniversary of the hurricane. On Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall as a Category 4 storm in Yabucoa, on the island’s southwest side, bringing 155 mph winds, massive rains and flooding across the island.

The diocese, with assistance from medical staff from St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, its facility in Ponce, has conducted regular mission and education fairs over the past year. The fair on Sept. 20, however, included a special service to remember the thousands of lives lost, and survivors still affected and mourning. And then, in partnership with the Diocese of New York, Morales participated in a Eucharist in remembrance of Maria’s victims on Sunday, Sept. 23 at Church of the Intercession in Manhattan. New York City is home to more than 700,000 Puerto Ricans, the largest diaspora on the mainland.

Though the initial death toll stood at 64 people, thousands of others died in the storm’s aftermath, some from medical needs that went untreated. A recent study recorded 2,975 deaths. Many residents were with out electricity for months, and some in remote regions still don’t have power.

Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory; its 3.3 million residents are U.S. citizens. The Diocese of Puerto Rico – 5,000 Episcopalians – is part of the Episcopal Church’s Province IX. Of the diocese’s 87 buildings, 66 sustained damage. Emergency repairs were made so that the doors could open; if the structures weren’t safe, the bishop’s mandate was to set up a table outside.

When Maria hit, neither the government nor nongovernmental institutions, including the diocese, had disaster plans in place.

“There was no plan, but everyone came together – not just the diocese, but [Maria] brought the church and community together,” said Yaitza Salinas, diocesan administrator.


The Rev. Ana Maria Mendez, right, director of the Diocese of Puerto Rico’s disaster response program, and a volunteer pack bags for distribution to people in need in a makeshift warehouse on the diocese’s property in Trujillo Alto, a barrio of San Juan. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Diocesan staff sprang into action and divided the island into four quadrants, assessing damage and distributing food, water and other emergency supplies. In late September and into early October, the diocese received 17 shipping containers full of emergency supplies – food, water and  generators – which it sent to churches to distribute to communities, though it took a full two weeks and the use of four-wheel drive vehicles before remote communities could be reached.

“The people saw the trucks coming and they came out into the streets,” said Salinas.

Loiza, a barrio of some 4,700 people known in the past for its high murder rate, was one of the hardest hit areas on the northeast end of the island. It lies at the end of a 25-minute scenic drive along Highway 187 from San Juan. Many of the barrio’s residents still live with blue tarpaulins on their roofs.

“Nobody was prepared for Maria,” said the Rev. Ana Rosa Mendez, vicar of St. James and St. Philip the Apostles. “The church was responding to Irma.”

Loiza was one of the barrios affected by Hurricane Irma, which hit on Sept. 6, 2017. The Virgin Islands bore the brunt of Irma, but it also caused major flooding in some areas of Puerto Rico. Loiza and nearby communities were already struggling, and their need increased after the hurricanes.

Mendez, who now coordinates the diocese’s disaster response program, already has made inroads into the community, providing services to teenage and single mothers and training them to be self-sufficient. The church also provides meals to some 500 housebound people.

“It’s been a difficult year,” said Mendez in an interview with ENS at the church. Scarcity of building materials is one of the major challenges. Still, even in the hurricanes’ aftermath, Mendez said, “the churches worked together and there was some good that came out of it.”

Edith Verdejo, a longtime member of St. James and St. Philip, echoed that sentiment. Verdejo, who’s also a community leader, worked to connect the church to other community organizations and the local government to coordinate a response. Together they worked to help property owners secure the deeds to their dwellings, as well as distribute supplies and establish disaster protocols.

“Everyone rolled up their sleeves and came together as a community,” Verdejo said. “We used to have a high murder rate, and that has lowered since the storm. People are really coming together.”

The community realized they have to come together and help themselves, not wait for help from the government, said Verdejo.  Still, “the priest [Mendez] has told us, if you see someone in need …”

The governmental response, particularly the federal response, has been criticized, while President Donald Trump has continued to say the revised death toll was fabricated.

In the future, the diocese and its churches want to be better prepared. In partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, they are implementing a diocesan response strategy.

Episcopal Relief & Development is committed to working with the Diocese of Puerto Rico on the Recovery and Preparedness program, REDES, for the next several years. The program is currently focused on supporting pastoral care and mental health, and providing housing repair and livelihood recovery to households impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

REDES collaborates through and with the 52 congregations in the diocese, connecting resources and volunteers, conducting preparedness assessments for future all-hazards planning, and supporting clergy and lay leaders on a variety of disaster preparedness activities.

“We are grateful to be able to support the Episcopal Diocese of Puerto Rico as it acts as a beacon of hope to so many who have lost so much, and continue on the long road of recovery,” said Abagail Nelson, senior vice president of programs for Episcopal Relief & Development.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Ponce, like other hospitals on the island, struggled with electricity after the storm. As the 2018 hurricane season was reaching its peak and Hurricane Isaac posted a threat to the island, Dr. William Santiago, medical director, said in an interview with ENS at the hospital that it had contingency plans in place, including many more generators on hand.

Beyond preparing for the next disaster, the diocese continues to respond to last year’s hurricanes. Not all who suffered damage or loss of their homes qualify for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. For instance, it can be difficult to prove ownership of a dwelling that’s been lived in by and handed down through generations, as is more often the case in rural communities. The diocese created a relief fund with a $200,000 donation from Trinity Church Wall Street in New York to assist residents who are ineligible for federal disaster funds.

Those funds can go to assist people like Luis Oliveras’ neighbors. Oliveras, who coordinates the diocese’s disaster response in the southern district, witnessed seven of his neighbors, who lived in wooden houses, lose everything.

“It was hard to watch,” said Oliveras. “None of them had deeds for the houses, so FEMA said no help for them.”

Oliveras lives in a mountainous region in the southwest, where the majority of people work in agriculture on coffee, plantain and citrus plantations. Many of the farmers, who struggle to make a living even during good times, live in wooden houses rather than sturdier concrete structures. As their plight demonstrates, it’s the people who struggle to make ends meet during regular times who really struggle in the aftermath of a disaster. Many people were left homeless.

One creative endeavor supported by the diocese and St. Bartholomew’s Church in Bartolo was the conversion of a vacant pubic school into a short-term – now long-term – response to a housing shortage.

Puerto Rico’s first vocational agricultural school and one of the hundreds of schools closed by the government has been “occupied” and transformed into apartments, a community center, a museum and coffee shop. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Before Maria, Puerto Rico’s financial crisis made headlines, a situation exacerbated by the hurricane as even more residents have fled the island. A year ago, Puerto Rico’s government closed 167 public schools; this year it plans to close 265 more.

One of those schools closed is in Bartolo, where Elisa Sanchez, a community organizer who has been active in Puerto Rico’s Occupy Movement and in a network of grassroots support centers across the island, has worked to transform the school into 15 residences, a community center offering art and other workshops, and a museum and coffee shop operated by young people. The hope is to secure a projector so that the coffee shop can screen movies.


One of the first things Elisa Sanchez did when “occupying” the school was paint the bus stop, to make it more inviting and to create goodwill in the community. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Sanchez has received more than $180,000 in interfaith support for the school’s transformation; a volunteer crew from Washington National Cathedral helped to paint the build’s interior. Sanchez now is working with Episcopal Social Services, a diocesan program, and the Rev. Carlos Velez, the priest at St. Bartholomew’s, just up the street, to persuade the government to transfer the property to the church. In the 1920s the church owned the land, 5 acres, and later sold it to the government to build the school, which was the first vocational agricultural school on the island. Residents feel pride in bringing the region’s agriculture and the school back to life, she said.

The bishop agrees.

The project is an example of the church working with the community, said Morales. “This community has a big spirit and Father Carlos has been an inspiration”

At one time, there were 50 coffee plantations near Bartolo. Today, still, there are coffee, plantain and citrus plantations in Puerto Rico, but less than 2 percent of the population works in agriculture. There’s an effort to revive smaller farms, and restaurants are beginning to tout locally grown food. The hope is to revitalize agriculture and agro-tourism, making Bartolo a brand, something for the community to be proud of as it continues to recover.

Bartolo was devastated by the storm and the local government has always supported the plantation owners, not the farmers, Sanchez said.

“We were going to occupy this space temporarily, but the strategy [now] is to keep this place permanently occupied,” said Sanchez.

“It’s a moral issue. … We don’t want to get political, we want to empower the community.”

The school doesn’t just provide housing, it provides support for women fleeing domestic violence. Mothers and their children have a safe place and the mothers receive self-sufficiency training. Farmers need assistance, too, and to that end Sanchez and others are working on a community agriculture project. The hope, said Sanchez, is to rebrand the region based on agricultural products.

“The people here were abandoned before the hurricane,” said Sanchez. “They’ve given so much but not received what they deserve.”

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

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Milwaukee congregation’s ministry sees college students as neighbors in ‘mission field’

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 4:55pm

Students from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee participate in a Dinner & Dialogue session through an ecumenical partnership that involves St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Photo: Matt Phillips

[Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee] For some, deciding to start a campus ministry from scratch may not seem like the most logical step to grow their church community. After all, college students are by nature transient and unlikely to become sustaining members of the parishes they attend while in college.

But for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on the east side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it seemed the right choice, because the church is just a few blocks south of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, or UWM.

“I thought it would be irresponsible not to develop a ministry for our closest neighbors,” said the Rev. Ian Burch, St. Mark’s rector. “These students are in our mission field.”

Burch began serving at St. Mark’s in January 2016, so he was relatively when he initiated this campus ministry. “Any time you have a transition is a good time to reassess your strengths and weaknesses,” said Peggy Bean, Diocese of Milwaukee canon for congregations, who serves as the diocesan transition minister.

St. Mark’s already had a working relationship with UWM by hosting several of the university’s cooking classes. “Building and strengthening those relationships made good sense,” Bean said. “When you have good staff plus a relationship, that’s exactly when you do it.”

St. Mark’s hasn’t offered a full-fledged campus ministry at UWM for at least 20 years, Burch said. Previously, the parish had dedicated a house and a full-time priest to that work. Burch thought it deserved another try.

“There are 22,000 undergraduates, 4,800 graduate students, and 61 percent of undergraduates live in on-campus housing – that’s quite an opportunity for ministry,” said Burch.

UWM has evolved from being a primarily commuter campus to a more residential campus. There are more residential halls and more campus activities available today compared to 30 years ago. “I happen to think the Episcopal Church generally and St. Mark’s specifically have something to offer to young people,” Burch said. “We are a warm, vibrant and quickly growing parish ready to offer God’s love and justice to young people in an incredibly exciting and formative moment in their lives.”

To support this ministry, Burch applied for and was awarded a $29,800 Young Adult and Campus Ministry grant. “These grants help the Episcopal Church live into an expanded understanding of what it means to be in ministry with young adults on and off college campuses,” said the Rev. Shannon Kelly, officer for young adult and campus ministries. “This is a growing ministry, one that shows the church how to engage mission and the Jesus Movement in new, innovative ways.”

Burch also received a grant from the Diocese of Milwaukee. With the money St. Mark’s has received, it hired Matt Phillips as director of campus and youth ministries in July 2017.

Phillips was raised in the Episcopal Church, and while a religious studies student at the University of Illinois, he participated in the campus ministry program there. “I worked most Sunday mornings, so the Wednesday night services at my university Episcopal campus ministry house was my point of connection with the church.”

He sees campus ministry as an entry to the church. “It’s the time in [students’] lives that they have to make a conscious effort to go to church, or even to stop in a church for the first time,” Phillips said. “College can be a time to return to the church or to decide which churches align with their beliefs.”

A challenge for campus ministry is that you have to spend a lot of time building relationships with students to get them to step into your church building. Phillips said commit to taking the time with students, you have a “greater chance that they will be the church going forward.”

St. Mark’s has been offering direct programming for young adults and college students. It offered a six-week wellness program with Living Compass Living Wellness last fall, and it plans to offer it again next spring. St. Mark’s is now offering a monthly Sunday evening Eucharist specifically for campus students.

St. Mark’s also has partnered with Better Together, an interfaith organization at UWM whose mission it is to bring awareness to various faith and non-faith communities, and The Corner House, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America campus ministry, to run a program they call Dinner & Dialogue.

“It started with a suggestion from a grad student who had participated in this type of engagement while an undergrad at another institution and was looking for a way to experience these conversations and engagement at UWM,” Phillips said.

The three organizations knew they had a good idea: to gather together over dinner to discuss a variety of topics (faith, belief, doubts, liberation theology, queer theology). They put the word out through Facebook, Meet-Up and word-of-mouth and were delighted that 20 people showed up for the first session. They continued to meet twice monthly to the end of the semester, sharing food and talking about faith and doubts. They are resuming these sessions this month.

In addition to his work at UWM, Phillips also serves the Marquette University campus as the interim affiliated minister for the year and will be leading a weekly Evening Prayer and fellowship, as well as a six-week Living Compass Wellness series.

What will these types of ministries become?

“I told the vestry that campus ministry is a lot like ministry to the housing insecure. Rarely would they become permanent members of our worshipping community. They may be with us for a season and then move on,” Burch said. “My hope is that their experience at St. Mark’s will instill in them the love of a local worshipping community and that, when they do put down roots somewhere, they might find themselves looking around for their local Episcopal church.

“It’s also been my experience that campus ministry is a place where young people work out their sense of vocation, and I expect that we will see young people considering Holy Orders more frequently because of our efforts.”

Bean echoed those sentiments.

“I don’t think growing our average Sunday attendance is what our task is,” she said. “Our task is to build disciples of Christ and to be the hands and feet of Christ every day.”

– Sara Bitner is communications officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee.

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